MOTHER PLEADS GUILTY TO REDUCED CHARGE
By Chip Parkinson, Staff Writer
An adoptive mother pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge in the death of a 3-year-old boy.
Darlene W. Bright, 33, was originally charged with murder, a first-degree felony, after Kameron Bright died in her home April 3, 1994. Bright told police the boy had fallen from a bunk bed.She pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse homicide, a third-degree felony. Sentencing is set May 24.
Prosecutor Charles D. Behrens Jr. accepted the plea bargain because of conflicting medical evidence.
Specifically, he said, doctors couldn't state for sure that a fracture in the child's skull was not caused by a fall. Apparently, the fracture was a re-injury of an old break and could have been reopened in a drop from a top bunk.
"Our burden is to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. I don't think we could have done that with the conflicting evidence, especially since we didn't have any history about the original fracture," he said.
Defense attorney Ron Yengich also cited the conflicting evidence as his reason to accept the plea bargain. However, he said his client has always accepted responsibility for the boy's death.
"She agrees she should have been more watchful and that she was negligent for not being so," he said.
Bright, who has two other children, spent about three days in jail after she was charged with the crime. The state Division of Family Services removed her biological daughter and another adopted son after her arrest.
About a year later, a judge returned the children to the home after reviewing psychological reports and the physical evidence of the case.
The birth mother of the boy lost custody of him about four years ago. She has had infrequent contact with prosecutors since Bright was charged, a spokeswoman said.
Bright appeared in court Monday with her two children, husband and parents. She faces a possible sentence of zero to five years in prison.
The last "bunk bed" case to go to trial was that of Jason Genovesi. He told police his 2-year-old stepson had fallen from a bunk bed, breaking the child's neck and fracturing his skull.
A four-man, four-woman jury returned a guilty verdict but to the lesser charge of manslaughter, a second-degree felony. Genovesi, like Bright, was originally charged with murder, a first-degree felony.