CENTERVILLE — The mother of an 11-month-old child who died in Centerville earlier this year received prison time at her sentencing as the judge rejected a suspended sentence recommended in the plea agreement.
Brittney Kay Keller, 31, of Centerville, was sentenced to two years in prison with credit for 91 days she already served in jail. She was charged in May after her child drowned in a bathtub in their Centerville home. Authorities said Keller left her two young children alone in the bathtub with the water running before the infant drowned.
A plea deal reached by Appanoose County Attorney Susan Scieszinski and Keller’s attorney, Ken Duker, lessened the charges against Keller to aggravated misdemeanors for child endangerment and methamphetamine possession. The sentencing recommendation from the attorneys was a year in jail, suspended, with a year of court-supervised probation that required consistent monitoring of Keller’s substance abuse and mental health treatments.
“The state wants Mrs. Keller to get treatment,” Scieszinski said. “The state wants Mrs. Keller to get better and to be a productive member of society. And the state believes she is capable of that, and that this sentence would provide the maximum opportunity to do just that.”
Judge Rose Anne Mefford, however, sentenced Keller to prison for two years on each of the counts she pleaded guilty to. The sentences will be served concurrently.
“I do think you have potential and I do think you’ve taken some good steps for the past few months toward addressing your mental health and substance abuse issues,” Mefford told Keller after handing down her judgment. “I want you to continue on that path. ... Your lack of supervision of this child on May 21, 2019, when he was under one year of age and in a bathtub with running water had consequences.”
Scieszinski and Duker argued during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing that their recommendation provided more opportunity for rehabilitation. Both also argued that Keller will already suffer the punishment of knowing she was responsible for her child’s death.
“In a lot of respects, Mrs. Keller will suffer for a lifetime knowing that she had some hand in his (the infant’s) lack of supervision that ultimately resulted in his death,” Scieszinski said.
Bond for appeal was set at $4,000. Keller also received a $1,250 fine that was suspended, and she will have to pay restitution.