Montana woman gets 14 years in prison for baby’s smothering death
BUTTE, Montana (AP) — A woman who fell asleep in her car after using methamphetamine and smothered her 5-month-old daughter was sentenced Monday to 14 years in the Montana Women’s Prison for negligent homicide.
District Judge Kurt Krueger sentenced Audria Nickerson, 32, for the September 2019 death, The Montana Standard reported. Krueger gave her credit for 438 days of time served.
Defense attorney Ellie Boldman said Nickerson’s childhood was fraught with abuse and neglect and that she became addicted to meth when she was 12 years old. Boldman sought a shorter sentence or one that would focus on intensive, inpatient treatment.
Krueger called the case “truly tragic,” saying: “The defendant has brought her children into the same world she grew up in.”
Nickerson told investigators that the night before her baby died she and her husband were packing to move to Maine when they argued over a pit bull puppy that her husband allowed around the children over her objections, court records said.
Nickerson said she used meth “in an effort to pack up the house” and left the house with her two young children so they could get away from the fighting and sleep.
Police discovered Nickerson asleep, slumped over a baby, in a car parked a half block away from the police station on Sept. 25, 2019. A little boy was in the back seat.
Officers broke the window to get into the car. They began performing CPR on the baby, but were unable to revive her. An autopsy showed she died from suffocation, court records said.
The boy, who was 18 months old, was turned over to child protective services.
Nickerson was allowed to remain free pending toxicology tests and she went to Maine, where she was eventually arrested and returned to Montana to face charges.