Linn mother to spend a decade in jail in son's drowning death
By Meghan Lane
Fri, 02 Sep 2011 18:43:10 GMT — A Mid-Missouri mother is back behind bars tonight after learning her fate Thursday. 29-year-old Rachel Sweet, 29, of Linn will spend a decade in prison after pleading guilty in the death of her two-month-old son, Cooper. Cooper drowned in March when Sweet left him unattended in a bathtub with running water. Investigators said they believed Sweet put the baby in the tub and then fell asleep. While cameras were not allowed in the courtroom, reporters were allowed to sit in on the sentencing proceedings. Sweet was in court, wearing her jail uniform along with a belt connected to handcuffs. She wore slip-on shoes with socks and her hair was pulled up in a bun. Both of her parents, Candice and John Houser, were there to support their daughter and spoke in court. They both expressed their love for their daughter and their continuing support for her. I honestly think she would never have done that on purpose, her father said. Her mother Candice was at the home when Cooper drowned but she said she was sleeping. Candice Houser told the judge this has been hard on everyone since Sweet's other two children were taken out of the home. I love Rachel and I love those children, Candice Houser said. I believe Rachel is not guilty of leaving that child in the tub. Sweet also got the opportunity to speak in front of the judge and tearfully said, 'it should have been me, not Cooper.' And later she said "if I could bring Cooper back, I would." Sweet disagreed with things written in her report. Cooper didn't roll out of the bathtub, Sweet said. She told the judge she left the water barely running when she walked out of the bathroom with the baby in the tub. She then said when she went back into the room Cooper was lying face down in the tub. She claimed she only left the infant in the bathroom tub unsupervised for about 3 minutes. But Osage County Prosecutor, Amanda Grellner, said experts estimated Cooper's body temperature to be about 82 degrees when medics found him at Sweet's home, which led them to believe Cooper had been there for hours. Sweet also said she wasn't high on any medication or drugs at the time of the drowning. Sweet said she took the pills after she called the ambulance and realized what had happened to her baby. I was trying to kill myself after I called the ambulance, Sweet said. While Sweet said she wasn't high when she put Cooper in the tub, Grellner said Sweet had told authorities that the night before the drowning she had taken pills and drank alcohol. On Friday Sweet's attorney wanted the sentence for involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment to run concurrent. Instead the judge sided with Grellner, and sentenced sweet to serve 7 years for the charge of involuntary manslaughter and 3 years for the charge of child endangerment. He ordered them to be served consecutively, for a total of 10 years behind bars. Grellner told the judge Friday morning Rachel Sweet's actions were not just negligent they were reckless and went on to say sweet failed her son.
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