Mom accused of manslaughter in toddler’s asphyxiation death wants test of medical equipment

Relates to:
Date: 2015-04-20

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The involuntary manslaughter trial for the mother accused of gross negligence in the death of her 18-month-old daughter is on hold as tests are conducted of equipment that was supposed to keep the toddler alive.

Rebecca Joy Cotes is accused of failing to employ monitoring equipment when she put the child, Hannah Hoag, in her crib for the night on March 26, 2014. She is charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The toddler died as a result of her trachea tube being dislodged, causing her to asphyxiate, according to Kent County Medical Examiner Stephen Cohle.

Hannah had a tumor in her airway that impeded her ability to breathe, necessitating the tube, according to court records.

Wyoming Police investigators say a monitoring device meant to sound an alarm when the breathing tube was dislodged was not hooked up. Police and Child Protective Services investigated the incident for 10 months before charges were filed.

However, Cotes has maintained her innocence and her attorney, Valarie Foster of the Kent County Office of the Defender, said she is seeking additional testing of the monitoring equipment to determine if equipment failure was responsible for the child’s death.

Last week, Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock agreed to set a trial date in two to three months in order to allow for the testing.

Cotes, who adopted the 18-month-old, remains free on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.


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