DENVER (Reuters) – A Colorado mother who told police her 13-month-old son drowned in the bathtub while she was playing a game on Facebook was charged on Friday with child abuse resulting in death.
Shannon Johnson, 34, was advised of the charge against her via a video hookup from the jail where she is being held on a $100,000 bond, said Jennifer Finch, spokeswoman for the Weld County District Attorney’s Office.
Johnson requested a public defender during the brief hearing and another hearing was set for later in the month, Finch said.
Under questioning by police after the boy died at a Denver-area hospital last September, Johnson admitted she placed the baby in the bathtub and went into another room to play the Facebook game “Cafe World.”
She also checked in with friends and watched videos on the site while the boy bathed alone, according to an affidavit filed in the case.
When she didn’t hear any sounds from the boy after 10 minutes, she found him slumped over face down in the bathwater making “gurgling” sounds, the affidavit. Johnson then called 911, and the boy was airlifted to the hospital where he was pronounced dead from drowning.
When police arrived at Johnson’s home in Fort Lupton, Colorado, they found a laptop opened to Facebook.
Johnson told police that she frequently left the boy unattended in the bathtub because he was “independent,” he liked to be left alone, and she didn’t want him to be a “mama’s boy,” according to the affidavit.
Police also questioned the boy’s grandmother, who said he suffered a seizure while she was baby-sitting him a month before he died. She told police she warned her daughter about leaving her grandson alone in the tub after the seizure.
When police asked Johnson about the wisdom of leaving a young child with a history of seizures alone in water, Johnson admitted that “it was so stupid.”
She faces up to 48 years in prison if convicted.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Dan Whitcomb)
By Keith Coffman
DENVER | Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:26pm EST