A Utah mom could spend as little as one year -- or as many as 15 -- behind bars for accidentally killing her 2-year-old son in January by filling his sippy cup with prescription Methadone instead of Gatorade.
Jill Goff, 33, poured the pain reliever, which is often used to reduce withdrawal symptoms in people who are trying to kick drug addictions, into a sports drink bottle at her home and then says she forgot all about it. When she went to pour some Gatorade into little Aiden's cup a short time later, she took the liquid from the sports bottle, not realizing it was the narcotic. He had a terrible reaction to it, and she says she forced him to vomit.
But what this mom did next was highly questionable.
Aiden didn't like the taste of the drink, according to a police statement, so Goff had her older children -- ages 5 and 8 -- sample it. When her toddler began to feel ill, she helped him vomit and then put him down for a nap. Instead of calling 911 or taking her kids to the hospital, apparently she then took a nap herself.
Goff called for help after she realized the child was not breathing. Emergency responders were unable to resuscitate Aiden, and he died at his home. His older siblings were treated at a hospital for Methadone ingestion but are okay.
This mom's decision not to call for help immediately is definitely a careless one, but I'm not sure it indicates that this was still anything more than a horrific accident. It isn't clear at what point Goff realized her children had swallowed the drug instead of Gatorade.
She pleaded guilty to second-degree felony child abuse and was given a sentence of 1 to 15 years at the Utah State Prison.
Neither the prosecutor nor the defense attorney pushed the judge to send this mom to jail, insisting it was an accident. Chief Deputy Tooele County Attorney Gary Searle said anything lengthier than one year spent in jail was "not going to bring her child back" and that it wasn't going to serve any purpose other than satisfying the "lust for vengeance."
I want to be angry at this mom for being so irresponsible, but I can't help but feel compassion for her. We don't know the details of her life and whether her prescription Methadone was being used to help with an addiction, but assuming it was, she was at least trying to get her life back on track -- which is commendable. I'm sad for her and feel heartbroken for her other children.
Goff's attorney says the mom suffered from depression after her son's death and that she has accepted responsibility for her actions.
Do you think this mom's sentence is fair?
Image via Randy Robertson/Flickr