SPRINGFIELD, MO—Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a woman at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri pleaded guilty in federal court today to killing her infant daughter.
Kristin Marie Phillips, 35, of Fort Leonard Wood, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith to involuntary manslaughter in the death of her 11-month-old daughter, Alexis Phillips, in February 2008. Phillips’ husband was a soldier who was deployed to Iraq at the time of the offense.
By pleading guilty, Phillips admitted that she acted with criminal negligence that resulted in the death of her infant daughter by dehydration.
On Feb. 21, 2008, at approximately 9:15 p.m., members of the Fort Leonard Wood Military Police, along with emergency medical services, were dispatched to Phillips’ residence on the premises of Fort Leonard Wood to respond to two unintelligible phone calls placed to the Fort’s 911 system. Upon arrival, responding officers were directed to the master bedroom. The officers forced entry into the bedroom and observed Phillips laying in bed, clutching the lifeless body of Alexis. As the responders offered assistance, Phillips became agitated and began screaming at the responders, saying “Don’t touch me, take care of my baby, why aren’t you taking care of my baby?” and “Let me die, get away from me and let me die.”
The responders found Alexis to be unresponsive, without a pulse and cold to the touch. They quickly determined that she was deceased. Next to the bed, responders found two empty prescription medication bottles, one for Flexeril and the other for Ultram, and a bottle of Southern Comfort.
The Pulaski County coroner took custody of the body of Alexis and Phillips wastransported the Fort Leonard Wood Army Hospital Emergency Room.
Three other children were located inside the residence. Members of the Criminal Investigation Division, who arrived on scene shortly after the Military Police Units, began a search of the house. The residence was in a condition of disarray and unclean. The master bedroom where the victim was found contained a portable crib. The crib was heavily soiled and contained a standing pool of what appeared to be a mixture of urine, and feces. Investigators also located a large number of empty bottles of liquor. A heavily soiled baby outfit and overfilled diapers were located buried under a pile of other garbage.
At the emergency room, military doctors treated Phillips for a drug and alcohol overdose and admitted her for psychiatric treatment.
On Feb. 22, 2008, Dr. Doug Anderson, a forensic pathologist, performed an autopsy of Alexis at Cox South Hospital in Springfield, Mo. The autopsy revealed that Alexis had no broken bones, bruising or injury to her head or brain. Alexis was determined to have chemical burns to the skin, apparently caused by immersion in urine. Alexis’s legs were covered with dried, “apparent diarrhea stool.” Dr. Anderson also noted that Alexis’s lungs were congested. Examination of Alexis’ digestive tract revealed minimal contents. Dr. Anderson classified Alexis’s death as a homicide caused by dehydration secondary to neglect.
Phillips acknowledged in today’s plea agreement that she should have sought medical care for Alexis and that her failure to do so was criminally negligent. She attributed her failure to provide necessary care to her compromised mental state, but agreed that she is responsible for Alexis’s death because she failed to be aware of the substantial and unjustifiable risks associated with Alexis’s illness and her age, ultimately resulting in dehydration and her death. Phillips also acknowledged that this failure constituted a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would have exercised in the same situation.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Phillips and the government agree to a sentence of eight years in federal prison without parole, which is the statutory maximum. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Kelleher. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Division of the United States Army.