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Fla. woman arrested after second newborn dies from co-sleeping

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 22/12/2016 Stephanie Allen

Erin Piche-Pitts. (Polk County Sheriff's Office) © Polk County Sheriff's Office Erin Piche-Pitts. (Polk County Sheriff's Office) A Winter Haven woman is facing aggravated manslaughter charges after two of her newborns died from apparent co-sleeping despite numerous warnings, deputies say.

Erin Piche-Pitts, 25, had her first child in November 2009 and was counseled before giving birth on the dangers of sleeping in the same bed as the baby, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Thirteen days later, Piche-Pitts fell asleep while breast-feeding the newborn, deputies said. She woke up sometime later to find the baby girl unresponsive.

Medical crews pronounced her dead at a hospital and Sheriff’s officials said the girl died from asphyxia “due to probable overlay and co-sleeping.” Her death was ruled an accident.

Piche-Pitts got pregnant again this year, and in March attended training on the dangers of co-sleeping and how to safely put a baby to bed, the Sheriff’s Office said. Family members also talked with her about being more careful because of the first child’s death, and Piche-Pitts went to additional counseling about safe sleeping.

Deputies said Piche-Pitts gave birth to a boy Sept. 18 and hospital staff talked with her again about safety. Eighteen days later, on Oct. 6, the baby woke up crying, so Piche-Pitts prepared a bottle and propped him up in her arms in bed, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Piche-Pitts then fell asleep for more than two hours and woke up to find the boy unresponsive, deputies said. He died at Winter Haven Hospital.

Deputies said Piche-Pitts had “repeated warnings” about co-sleeping and determined the baby’s death was “through her own culpable negligence.”

She was arrested Tuesday on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child, a first-degree felony.

In July, while pregnant with the boy, deputies arrested Piche-Pitts on a possession of methamphetamine charge after they said they found paraphernalia with drug residue on it in a vehicle she was sitting in. She told a deputy after her arrest that she hasn’t used meth in more than two years, a report shows.

Prosecutors later declined to formally charge her, records show, and the case was dropped.

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