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girlwithsoul
02-19-2003, 03:05 PM
http://www.courttv.com/trials/taped/prescott/background.html

Texas v. Prescott: Mom naps, girl drowns

(Court TV) — When a 4-year-old child drowned in an apartment complex hot tub, it seemed like a tragic accident. But police believed the child's mother was to blame.

Lisa Prescott found herself facing life in prison if convicted of knowingly and recklessly causing serious bodily injury in connection with the death of her daughter, Sarah.

She was tried before a Bexar County jury beginning April 17, 2002.

The Story

At approximately 2 p.m. on Dec. 6, 1999, the assistant manager of the Camino Real Apartments — a gated apartment campus located northeast of downtown San Antonio —heard what she originally thought was the sound of a cat crying.

Alice Tijerina left her office to investigate and headed to the complex's large outdoor swimming pool. There, she realized that the cries she had heard were coming from a little girl sitting at the edge of a hot tub located next to the pool.

At first, according to Tijerina, it appeared the girl was holding on to her own leg in the water. But a closer look revealed the gruesome truth — the crying child was holding on to the foot of another girl, floating face down in the water. Tijerina immediately jumped in and pulled the unconscious child out of the water and carried her to a nearby apartment, where a resident attempted to perform CPR while 911 was called.

The child who had been crying at the hot tub was 4-year-old Stephanie Prescott, the identical twin sister of the little girl discovered floating face down in the water, Sarah.

The girls lived with their mother, Lisa Prescott, and Lisa's mother, Brenda Cooper, in apartment 2501 at Camino Real, an apartment only a short walk from the pool.

Recognizing the Prescott twins, Tijerina rushed to apartment 2501 and knocked repeatedly on the door. But there was no answer. A second Camino Real employee took over the knocking as Tijerina went back to where paramedics were now trying to revive Sarah Prescott. Still, there was no immediate answer.

Finally, following what some witnesses have estimated was 15 or 20 minutes of knocking, Lisa Prescott, the twins' mother, appeared at the door dressed in her nightgown.

Although she was rushed by ambulance to San Antonio's University Hospital, Sarah Prescott never regained consciousness; in all likelihood, the child was already dead when she was discovered in the hot tub. An autopsy report later listed the cause of Sarah's death as "fresh water drowning."

Approximately one month later, the state of Texas charged then 31-year-old Lisa Prescott with causing, by omission, serious bodily injury to her child. Originally, Prescott's bail was set at $1 million. Later, that amount was reduced, and she remained free while awaiting trial.

After her sister's death, Stephanie Prescott was placed in the custody of an aunt and uncle in Virginia, a couple who once had custody of the twins before they were returned to their mother.

The Prosecution's Case

Prosecutors argued that Sarah's death was the result of criminal activity — the willful omission on the part of Lisa Prescott to properly supervise and protect her twin daughters.

If the drowning had been an isolated incident, according to prosecutors, it might have appeared to be a sad but unforeseeable accident. But prosecutors argued Sarah Prescott's death was the result of a pattern of negligence by her mother, a pattern Camino Real staff members and some of the Prescotts' neighbors say they noted in the past.

Several of the people who lived in the vicinity of the Prescott apartment claim they often saw the twins playing on their own, or wandering away from the common area next to their apartment, with no apparent adult supervision. And various Camino Real employees told authorities they discovered the twins wandering around the apartment complex on their own.

On one such occasion, the pair appeared to be lost. On another — in a story the jury did not hear — the girls were carrying a metal washer. Apparently thinking the washer was a coin, the girls allegedly told the maintenance man who found them that they were going to the store, which was located across a busy main road, to buy coffee for their mother so she'd wake up.

The prosecution argued Lisa Prescott neglected her children simply because she was more concerned with her own needs and desires than theirs. During much of the time that she should have been watching and protecting her girls, say prosecutors, the defendant was sleeping. But the neglect was constant and predictable, according to the state. That pattern of neglect repeatedly placed Stephanie and Sarah into positions of danger and ultimately led to Sarah's unfortunate, but preventable, death.

The Defense Case

Lisa Prescott's lawyers rejected the state's contention that the defendant was a bad mother who neglected her children. On the contrary, they painted Prescott as a single mom trying to do the best she could with her limited resources.

The defense denied accounts of neighbors who said they often saw Stephanie and Sarah playing unsupervised in a common area behind the Prescott apartment. Like most of the apartments at Camino Real, apartment 2501 has a large screened-in back porch enclosed by dark screens that are easy to see out of, but relatively difficult to see in through. During the times neighbors complained Lisa Prescott wasn't supervising her children, according to her attorneys, she was actually watching them from the porch or through an apartment window, unseen by others, yet very much in control.

Nevertheless, there were undoubtedly times when the twins were discovered wandering on their own inside the apartment complex. According to Lisa Prescott, although she always locked the doors, but Stephanie and Sarah had apparently become experts in the art of escape.

The sliding glass door leading to the back porch, even when locked, offered the pair little resistance. And a rip in the porch screen —once repaired by the complex, but then torn again — afforded a child-sized exit.

In fact, argued the defense, the apartment owners were the villains, not Prescott. Not only were the sliding glass door in the Prescott apartment improperly installed, allowing the twins to exit a supposedly secure home, according to defense lawyers, but the gate leading into the hot tub area was broken and rusted.

Defense lawyers displayed photographs of the gate latch which they claim show that the latch was broken on Dec. 6, 1999, and had, by the amount of rust present, obviously been in disrepair for some time. Had the pool gate been working properly, argued the defense, the Prescott twins would never have been able to enter the area in the first place.

Finally, according to her attorneys, Lisa Prescott could not be convicted because the charge required that the perpetrator "has assumed care, custody, or control" of the child in question. In this case, the defense claimed, the state didn't know and couldn't prove who was supposed to be watching Sarah Prescott at the time she drowned: Lisa Prescott or Brenda Cooper, the twins' grandmother.

According to the defendant, the family woke up and had a late breakfast on Dec. 6, 1999. Later, Lisa and Stephanie lay down for a nap, but Sarah, her mother claimed, was in the care of the child's grandmother.

The Stakes

If the jury determined Lisa Prescott knowingly, by omission, contributed to Sarah's death, the defendant would be convicted of a first-degree felony. The penalty for such a conviction would be life imprisonment.

But if the jury determined Prescott recklessly, rather than knowingly, by omission contributed to her daughter's death, that would constitute a second-degree felony. Such a conviction would carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

The Verdict

The six men and six women took approximately one hour on April 18, 2002, to find Prescottguilty of causing, by omission, serious bodily injury to her daughter, Sarah.

But jurors determined the defendant had acted recklessly rather than knowingly, sparing her a possible life prison sentence.

The same panel deliberated in a penalty phase of the trial. While they could have handed Prescott a prison sentence of up to 20 years in prison, they instead recommended probation for up to 10 years with no prison time.

ttistin
02-19-2003, 03:22 PM
:( :( :(

denisemm
02-19-2003, 03:41 PM
"During the times neighbors complained Lisa Prescott wasn't supervising her children, according to her attorneys, she was actually watching them from the porch or through an apartment window, unseen by others, yet very much in control."

um, yeah, because if you are watching through a screened in porch or through a window, and somthing happens to your FOUR YEAR OLDS, you're gonna be able to get right to them. Yeah, right, sure, whatever.
And to the argument that the gate was rusted & broken, well, if she had been watching them they wouldn't have gotten in the gate. If she knw the gate was broken, she should have been apying more attention. Geez! All of her defenses are ridiculous! I'm glad the jury saw right through them.
Some people! :rolleyes:

jayhawkfan
02-19-2003, 04:54 PM
I watch my kids through the window and the screened porch all the time. The difference is that Im paying atention and not sleeping

angelinwaiting
02-19-2003, 05:02 PM
OMG....that is awful...poor little girls....imagine what the other twin is going to have to live through now...she will most likely never forget:( :( :(

WitchyGurl
02-20-2003, 03:55 AM
I was scraping the ice off my windshield one day. I turned my head for about a minut, maybe two. My 6 year old was GONE!!!
I imediatly called 911. I found her inside another person's apartment!
I was so scared! I can't imagine anyone not knowing where their children are. I would never live in an apartment complex with a pool!
EVER! I know how dangerous pools are. It's just not worth the risk for parents of small children!:(

ginna74
02-20-2003, 12:19 PM
I feel for that mom though....she lost her baby... yes by her actions. But I am sure she didn't tink "oh if I take a nap I will kill my children". I have walked in onmy husbund taking a nap with our two up and I reemed him a new you know what. But we were all so tired then . he wasn't sleeping right...... and he literly fell assleep on the floor. No it was no excuse about his sleep problems........ but it was understandable. Isn't there a lady who works 3 jobs on here? she does it to feed her family.... well my hubby was working those hours and I needed to grocery shop (I prayed for a moment without the kids). Anyway there is NO EXUSE for those actions but it was understandable. Luckily nothing happened. The worst happened in this experience and it is very sad. She was judged by a group of our peers set by our man made laws. I personally think that god won't be so harsh on her. But that is for God to decide. We know she loved her babies and NEVER wanted this to happen. It was careless.... and I have made a lot of careless mistakes in my life and with my kids that haven't ended up so tragicly (sp?). Now I know EVERYONE here has been careless at times ...... maybe not lots .... maybe only a few times .... but if anyone says they haven't been then they aren't don't only lying to us but lying to themselves because we are not perfect and that includes parenting.....I may think ok that was careless while you think no that wasn't also..... we all have our opinions and just because this happened to her family doesn't make her a bad person ... means she made a horrible mistake that turned tragic (sp?). God knows this and will judge her accordingly.

Tasha405
02-20-2003, 12:28 PM
I will not sleep with my kids running wild in my house. I don't care how tired I am. I have a friend that does this and it drives me crazy!

This is so sad, I'm sure the woman knows what she done was wrong and she will have the rest of her life to live with it. I feel so bad for the little girl too.

If anyone on here sleeps while their kids are awake and running wild, please put extra locks on your doors and cabinets. It doesn't really cost a whole lot to do and it could save a life.

ginna74
02-20-2003, 12:37 PM
no he didn't try to fall assleep... he just did.... his body was wore out.... but yeh the kids were old enough to relize that it wasn't right and sat on the couch until I came home.. I was soooooooooooooooooooo surrprized they weren't into every thing, because they were so young. THink my son was 4. My daughter put in a movie and they watched it. Yeh I think there should have been better locks too. But like I said we are ALL careless at times. Maybe not this way maybe another way though..... maybe not a lot...... but we all are not perfect lest we shall not judge..... this was obviouly not intentional and a horrible mistake that ended in tragidy.

ckerr4
02-20-2003, 01:57 PM
I think perhaps the sad and disturbing thing about this situation though is that there were two small children who needed supervision, there were two adults, and still nobody was watching the kids - and apparently this was not a one-time mistake.

cutie76
02-20-2003, 08:19 PM
I used to live in those apartments when I was 18 and 19.