HAGERSTOWN, Md. — A Maryland judge sentenced a man to six months in jail Monday for leaving his 10-month-old daughter to drown in a bathtub while he negotiated a car sale over the telephone and performed other household tasks.
Darius Jackson, 25, was irresponsible and careless, Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long said as he accepted Jackson’s guilty plea to reckless endangerment in the July 22, 2015, death of Juliette Nicholson.
Long suspended the remainder of a five-year sentence, and prosecutors dropped charges of manslaughter and child neglect in return for Jackson’s plea.
Jackson, of Hagerstown, sobbed loudly as he told the judge he suffers daily from the pain of his daughter’s death.
“I know I made a mistake,” he said.
Jackson acknowledged that he left the girl in an infant bath seat for several minutes with the water running in a tub that also held a 2-year-old boy. They boy’s shouts brought Jackson back to the bathroom, where he found Juliette face down in a foot of water.
From 1983 through November 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that in the U.S. there were 174 reported deaths involving bath seats and 300 reported nonfatal bath-seat incidents. Many of them involved babies left unattended.
Assistant Public Defender Robert E. Sheehan said Jackson told investigators he was “multitasking” when Juliette drowned in the home he shared with his girlfriend — not Juliette’s mother — and her two children. Sheehan said children should never be left alone in a bathtub.
Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Mollett-Gaumer attributed the death to “distracted parenting.” She said Jackson was responsible for Juliette’s safety and “he failed her miserably.”