The night her infant grandson died, Tina Miller-Steiner said, she was so distraught that she doesn't remember much of what happened.

On Wednesday, the 45-year-old Lakeville woman did say, though, that she drank two martinis with prescription drugs several hours before one of her daughters found her lying on her bed with the unresponsive 6-week-old boy, Evan Michael Berney. On that day, May 9, she had been babysitting Evan, the only child of her 23-year-old daughter, in her mobile home.

"I grieve for my grandson, for a stupid mistake that I made and that anybody could have made," Miller-Steiner said in a phone interview on Wednesday. "I'm devastated. I miss my boy."

Lakeville police said they are asking Dakota County prosecutors to charge Miller-Steiner with manslaughter, alleging that she fell asleep atop Evan, killing him.

Police say Miller-Steiner told them a police officer who responded to a 911 call in which she said she thought she'd killed Evan, according to a search-warrant affidavit police filed in Dakota County District Court. "I killed him! I killed him!" she said to the officer, according to court papers.

Miller said Wednesday that her memory of that night is hazy because of the trauma of Evan's death. "A lot of my friends that were here said that I wasn't making any sense," she said. "I was in hysterics."

"I'm being condemned," she said of the possibility that she might be charged. "I made a mistake, and the Lakeville Police Department thinks I need to pay for it," she said, but "I'm already suffering."

After Evan died, a judge granted a warrant to have medical personnel test Miller-Steiner's blood. The results showed that she was legally drunk when the baby died, police said.

Miller-Steiner told police she had been taking medication for anxiety and depression and had been advised by her physician not to mix that medication with alcohol.

Dakota County prosecutors are examining the case, and Lakeville investigators say they expect a decision on the charges next week. Dakota County attorney Jim Backstrom said that he would not comment on the case before his office made that decision.

Details of death uncertain

The search warrant request came early May 10 as police sought to check Miller-Steiner's blood for alcohol. A breath test had registered her intoxicated, with a blood concentration of 0.12 at the scene, the search warrant papers say. The legal standard for intoxication is 0.08. Blood test results were unavailable from police this week, though police say they show she was impaired even some time after the tragedy.

The search-warrant application is based largely on what Miller-Steiner, her 12-year-old daughter and the daughter's friend told police. It alleges the death happened this way:

Miller-Steiner told police that she drank two martinis between 5 and 7 p.m. She put Evan down for a nap in her bed during that time. She made dinner, then got into bed about 7 p.m. to feed him. She held him as she fed him but fell asleep.

Nearly three hours later, her 12-year-old daughter came home and checked on her mother.

"Mom! You laid on him!" the girl's friend later told police she overheard while standing outside the bedroom.

But on Wednesday, the 12-year-old daughter disputed that account, saying she had found her mother lying down with the baby on the other side of the bed, face down. She awoke her mother, "and when they checked the baby, he was pale and not breathing," according to the search-warrant application prepared by police.

The papers say Miller-Steiner told a Lakeville officer that "she had a couple martinis and got tired and fell asleep."

She told police that her daughter awoke her at 9:45 p.m. that Saturday, but her memory of Evan's position differed, according to the court papers.

"She advised that Evan was face up and she was laying on top of Evan, with his face under her breast area," the police affidavit states. "She advised that Evan was pale."

One of the girls called 911 and handed the phone to Miller-Steiner, who performed "rescue breaths" at the direction of the dispatcher until an ambulance crew arrived.

Allina paramedics took Evan to Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, where he was pronounced dead.

Grief, anger and a plea

Miller-Steiner said she lost her mother to cancer a year ago and Evan's death "ripped everything wide open for me again."

Now her family is "working on repairing and grieving," she said. "I'm seeing a grief counselor, I'm in a women's support group, I've made my way back to the Lord. I'm trying to walk the talk and make changes in my life because of this tragedy."

Miller-Steiner said she and her daughters are angry at the news media's intrusion into the family's grief.

And she issued this plea to the parents of babies: "Don't sleep with them." It's a warning backed by many health authorities, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Don't put them in your bed, not under any circumstances," Miller-Steiner said. "Anything can happen." • 952-882-9017 952-882-9016