A grandmother has been sentenced to prison for giving her 1-year-old granddaughter, Leanna McEntee, morphine to ease her teething aches. The Pennsylvania grandmother, 53-year-old Penny Kochel, was watching Leanna for the weekend and had morphine left over from caring for her dying brother. She thought the drug would be just the trick to soothe the "crying and fussing" baby, but tragically, she gave her an overdose and the toddler died. The death was ruled a homicide and Kochel was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
A judge sentenced to Kochel to only two to 23 months in prison for the death, which he said was clearly accidental. The grandmother said in court:
I often wish I could trade places with her and that everything would be all right.
Originally, the grandmother lied about what had happened, saying she had given Leanna a teething tablet and rubbed tequila on her gums, but eventually fessed up to overdosing the child with morphine. Clearly, Kochel loved her granddaughter and didn't mean to hurt her. She said: "Leanna was my beautiful angel. I would never have done anything to her that I thought would hurt or kill her."
However, morphine is nothing to play around with. For decades, it was given out indiscriminately for everything from headaches to toothaches, but now it is considered the dangerous substance it is and must be handled very carefully.
However, since Kochel had been administering morphine to her brother, she must have thought she had a good handle on how much to give. Tragically, she did not.
No one should ever give children anything but over-the-counter medication specifically made for children -- and even then you should talk to a doctor about it. Children's systems are incredibly fragile.
Did this grandmother receive enough prison time? I think so. She will be in a prison of her own guilt and grief for a very long time to come. This is a terribly tragic story though.
Do you think she got enough prison time?
Image via Berks County Police