No charges to be filed in 2009 death of 6-year-old
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
There will be no charges filed over the death of 6-year-old McKenzie Webster-Brown, who succumbed to apparent complications from an asthma attack while in the home of a baby sitter in November 2009.
The causes of death, according to an autopsy, were an overdose of Albuterol, an asthma medication; as well as asthma and bronchopneumonia.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson decided in October against filing charges against the baby sitter, Eryn Thistle of Rifle, although he did not mail out a letter informing McKenzie’s mother until Dec. 13.
The mother, Faith Webster, 27, has moved to Bozeman, Mont., according to a friend of the family, and could not be reached for comment.
According to Beeson’s letter to Webster, “It is clear that McKenzie’s death was not caused intentionally by Erin [sic] Thistle. This being the case, the issues are (1) whether Ms. Thistle’s actions caused McKenzie’s death, and (2) if so, whether those actions were committed with either recklessness or criminal negligence.”
Following a fairly detailed discussion of the law, the letter noted that Adams County Coroner Dr. James Wilkerson told investigators that Webster-Brown apparently had experienced a severe asthma attack that lasted up to 15 hours before she was taken to a hospital.
Over the course of two days Thistle, while caring for Webster-Brown at Thistle’s home in Rifle, gave Webster-Brown multiple doses, apparently adult-sized doses, of Albuterol. The medicine was administered first to treat a runny nose, then an allergic reaction to Thistle’s cats, and finally to stem a worsening asthma attack, according to police.
Wilkerson told investigators that, given those circumstances and the fact that bronchopneumonia exacerbates asthma symptoms, “there was just no way that what she was doing was going to help [McKenzie].”
In his letter, Beeson stated that according to the experts, “Ms. Thistle was utilizing usual and customary treatments for McKenzie … in good faith and in the hope of helping McKenzie, not harming her.”
Given all this, Beeson continued, “That Ms. Thistle did not recognize the need for professional medical intervention until it was too late does not, in and of itself, rise to the level of recklessness or criminal negligence.”
Beeson wrote that he did not feel there was “sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Thistle committed a crime” and that his office will not be filing any charges.
In his letter, Beeson explained the delay in notifying Faith Webster, writing, “I have heretofore refrained from mailing this letter to you in the hope that we could meet and discuss its contents personally. I am now advised that you no longer wish to meet with me. I respect, and will honor, that decision.”
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