LUFKIN, Texas (AP) - A Texas mother was found guilty of child endangerment Monday after her newborn died in her bed.
Vanessa Clark burst into tears as a guilty verdict was read aloud. Angelina County jurors decided she endangered her newborn son by putting him to sleep in the same bed and her and then-husband Mark Clark.
"Evidence convinced them beyond a reasonable doubt that Vanessa Clark either recklessly or with criminal negligence engaged in conduct that placed her child in imminent danger," said prosecutor Dale Summa.
Summa believes two-month-old Tristan may still be alive if the Clarks had learned from another tragedy.
The prosecution argued Clark was reckless to allow Tristan to even sleep in the bed after the death of another infant. Another son died under similar circumstances less than a year before.
"A very hard position to say she wasn't aware of the risks," Summa said.
But Clark's legal team argued there's no law stopping parents from sleeping alongside their children. And that she was only trying to follow parenting guidelines from CPS after the previous death.
After seven hours of deliberation, a jury determined Vanessa and Mark Clark's bed was a dangerous place for Tristan.
The state's case compared Clark to the decisions of a drunk driver.
"You have a one car accident, one or more of the family members are dead; yes there's grief, they regret it, but they still violated the law," Summa said.
Clark's punishment for bad parenting could carry a 20-year prison sentence.