exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Mother Sentenced For Daughter's Death

Mother Sentenced For Daughter's Death

Burlington, Vermont - July 16, 2004

A Shelburne woman is going to prison for causing the death of her 3-year-old daughter in 1998.

At a Burlington court hearing Friday, Laura Higginbotham, 37, pled no contest to involuntary manslaughter. She was sentenced to serve one year in prison under the terms of a plea agreement.

The plea agreement ended a criminal case that started six years ago with the death of her daughter Logan. The toddler died of a brain injury sustained on November 25, 1998, at Higginbotham's Shelburne home, according to state records.

Higginbotham told authorities that Logan was playing in an upstairs bedroom when she heard the child fall. She says she ran upstairs and found the girl lying unconscious near the bed.

The medical examiner was unable to determine if the death was an accident, or homicide.

For three years the case lay dormant until it was re-examined by police. The investigators consulted with medical experts, who re-examined the medical evidence and concluded the child's death was no accident. Two doctors found that the child's head had been intentionally slammed into a wall.

In 2001, Higginbotham was charged with involuntary manslaughter. She pleaded innocent and hired medical experts who concluded the child died accidentally from a two and a half foot fall from her bed.

So state prosecutors hired their own experts, who would testify that no child could ever sustain a fatal head injury from a short fall from a bed.

Both sides agreed the chances of victory at trial were fifty-fifty at best. So they struck a deal that allowed Higginbotham to plead "no contest" to involuntary manslaughter, thereby accepting criminal responsibility, but acknowledging no criminal guilt.

The deal sends Higginbotham to jail for one year. When she gets out, possibly in six months with credit for good time, she will be permitted to rejoin her family, including an eleven year old daughter.

Brian Joyce - Channel 3 News

2004 Jul 16