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Mom jailed in 2011 baby death charged in death of another infant

By Arthur Weinreb     Sep 9, 2016 in Crime
Peach Bottom - While the death of her two-month-old was ruled unintentional, a 28-year-old mother is facing charges because she had been warned about co-sleeping with infants. The mom served 85 days in jail in 2011 when another child died under similar circumstances.
Jessica Harper, of Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania was arrested yesterday. The 28-year-old was charged with criminal homicide, involuntary manslaughter and endangering a child. She was arraigned at taken to the Lancaster County Jail.
Her two-month-old son died on July 12. It is alleged Harper, her three-year-old daughter and the infant slept in the same bed. When Harper woke up, she discovered the baby was not breathing. An autopsy determined the baby had been smothered and a forensic pathologist ruled the death "asphyxiation by homicide."
While there is no evidence Harper intentionally killed her son, she had been warned on multiple occasions not to sleep in the same bed as the baby. These warnings were given after another one of her sons died in 2011. He was also two-months-old at the time of his death.
In January 2011, Harper was residing in Cecil County, Maryland when her first son died. She was charged with child abuse but later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge and was sentenced to time served (85 days). After she became pregnant again she was warned several times by several different people about the dangers of co-sleeping with infants.
According to police, after she gave birth at a Lancaster hospital on May 20, she was made to read about safe sleeping and required to sign a form acknowledging she understood the dangers. Before she could be discharged from hospital she was shown a video about safe sleeping.
The following month the baby was admitted to hospital. Again, she was shown a video and spoken to by two nurses. As well, Harper's pediatrician warned her several times about the dangers of co-sleeping. It is also alleged six days before the infant died Harper responded to these warnings by saying she was "going to do it anyway."
District Attorney Craig Stedman said he's determined not to let her off easy like she was in 2011. She already lost one child to positional asphyxiation and he described her actions with the second child as "outrageous conduct." Although the death was not intentional she had a reckless disregard for the life of her baby.
Harper has five other children and social services are involved. The 28-year-old is being held without bail and is due in court on Sept. 20.
More about cosleeping, mother kills baby, Involuntary manslaughter, safe sleeping, Child abuse
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