A North Carolina woman who was charged after her three-year-old son froze to death on a porch in March has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Monday (11 December).
Jamie Basinger, a drug addict, accepted the plea deal and as part of the deal, prosecutors dropped an additional felony child abuse charge against her.
Authorities said that Jamie was charged in April after her son Landyn Melton was found dead on 15 March at his home in Morganton. The temperature that morning was in the 20s with chilly winds.
Landyn mostly stayed with Jamie's mother, Brenda Basinger, but he wanted to stay with Jamie after they had celebrated his third birthday the night before he was found dead from hypothermia.
Assistant district attorney Michelle Lippert said in court that after a neighbour alerted the authorities, an officer went over to the house and knocked on the door.
He said that the officer had to knock on the door so hard that "he was surprised he did not break the storm door glass".
After a while, Jamie's boyfriend, Joshua Steffey, answered the door and went in to get Jamie.
Both Steffey and Jamie admitted that they had smoked marijuana the night before Landyn was found dead and meth two days before, Lippert said.
According to Brenda, despite Jamie being released, the family has a lot of unanswered questions and have not experienced a closure, the News Herald of Morganton newspaper reported.
"She's going to have to live with this the rest of her life," Brenda said. "She's going to have a battle — we all are."
Jamie's attorney, Frank Webster had also rejected the plea deal in November and had continued to maintain her innocence.
"Overwhelmingly, as you would expect, the community is calling for her blood," Webster said. "And all she really has is me to stand up for her, and I've done the best I can with that."
Jamie was given a split sentence by a judge that includes 36 months of supervised probation and between 19 and 32 months of prison time. Jamie was given credit for the 245 days she's been in custody.
She has also been asked to complete 72 hours of community service and comply with any court orders relating to her other child, the newspaper reported.