A 30-day jail sentence awaits a drug-addicted mother in central Minnesota in the death of her 7-week-old daughter, who was found lying suffocated on the floor next to her bassinet.
Nicole K. McKay, 26, of Sauk Rapids, pleaded guilty last week in Benton County District Court to child endangerment in the Nov. 25 death of Emma Nicole Dennis. McKay, who said she had gotten up in the middle of the night to feed her daughter, had been charged with second-degree manslaughter and child neglect.
"A partially consumed bottle of formula was found in [Emma's] bedside bassinet," County Attorney Philip Miller said Thursday. "Tragically, Emma never made it back into the bassinet and was found face down on a pillow on the floor, next to the bed."
McKay also admitted to allowing her 21-month-old son to ingest methamphetamine and other illicit drugs and pleaded guilty to storing meth near a child and allowing a child to ingest meth. The boy has been placed in protective custody.
Her live-in boyfriend and Emma's father, Matthew M. Dennis, is also charged in the case involving the boy. Dennis told police he and McKay are addicts trying to get clean, according to the charges.
Miller explained that an analysis of the boy's hair follicles showed "direct ingestion" of the drug and "not just from secondhand smoke, which is one of the ways the boys' parents would ingest their drugs."
Police found a tube under the boy's crib that contained a white powder that tested positive for meth, according to the charges.
According to prosecutors:
Police arrived at the apartment about 10 a.m. on Nov. 25 and found Emma on the floor already dead. Dennis told police that he awakened McKay and asked where Emma was, seeing that the baby was not in her bassinet.
McKay moved the bassinet, positioned about 6 inches from the couple's bed, and found Emma on the floor.
McKay told police she got up between 3 and 6 a.m. to feed Emma and change her diaper. Rather than return the baby to the bassinet, McKay said, she must have fallen asleep on the bed with Emma on the edge.
Emma died of positional asphyxia, according to the medical examiner.
Miller said prison time will be stayed, leaving McKay to serve 30 days in jail. She also must undergo assessments for drug addiction and mental health.