A Florida mother that co-slept with her 5-week-old infant was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child this week. The state alleges that Genna Aaronson willfully put her son in danger by allowing him to sleep in bed with her.
On January 5, 2018, Genna Aaronson fed her 5-week-old son. After he finished eating, she covered him with a blanket and laid him on her bed. After putting her son Clarke to bed, she watched a movie on her phone.
Six hours later, she woke up to her husband screaming. Her son was blue and not breathing. Both parents performed CPR on their son in an attempt to revive him. However, the baby never regained consciousness. First responders transported the lifeless baby to the hospital. Doctors pronounced him dead at 6:05 am on January 19.
Only a week before the baby died, his parents brought him to the hospital after he fell out of bed. The father told doctors he had been sleeping with the infant and he rolled out of his arms. While speaking with doctors, the parents admitted their infant slept in bed with one parent each night.
Thankfully, scans performed at the hospital indicated that Clarke did not suffer injuries from his fall.
Staff at the hospital provided education to the parents about the dangers of co-sleeping. They asked the parents not to sleep with the baby. Additionally, they requested the parents submit to a drug test. Clarke’s father, Paul Aaronson, tested positive for marijuana. Genna Aaronson refused to take the test.
An autopsy performed by the medical examiner determined the baby died from asphyxiation. Toxicology reports taken during the autopsy did not indicate any substances in the infant’s blood.
Investigators said the couple had a bassinet in their room for the baby. However, they chose to sleep in the same bed with Clarke.
Prosecutors believe the parents willfully placed the baby in danger by allowing him to sleep with them in a bed. A state record report said,
“Yet despite this, his parents continued to allow him to co-sleep with them,” the report states. “Both parents were responsible for allowing him to sleep in an unsafe situation which ultimately caused his death.”
After months of investigating, police arrested Genna Aaronson for the death of her son. Police booked her on a charge of aggravated manslaughter. At her arraignment, the judge said she could either be placed under house arrest or post a $10,000.00 bond.
The Panama City News Herald reports that eleven other children died related to co-sleeping after Clarke’s death. However, Genna Aaronson is the only parent that has been arrested for her role in a sleep-related death. Another mother was arrested in 2016 after her second child died from unsafe sleeping conditions.Aggravated Manslaughter is a first-degree felony and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that 3,500 babies die each year from sleep-related events. To reduce the risk of suffocation, the CDC recommends the following:
- Place the infant alone in a crib on their back
- Use a hard or firm mattress in a safety-approved crib
- Do not place any blankets, stuffed animals, or pillows in the crib
- Have the baby share a room with the parent but not the bed
For more information on Infant Safe Sleep Recommendations visit the CDC.
Genna Aaronson has no previous criminal history. She and her husband are also parents to a six-year-old child. There are no details on if charges will be pursued against the father.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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