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Charities back couple charged after newborn son dies co-sleeping in their bed

‘It’s so traumatic. It makes me feel like I have to put the grief on hold sometimes,’ says mother Brittany Diekneit

Namita Singh
Tuesday 06 June 2023 17:15 BST
(Denver Post/Getty)

Charities have defended a Colorado couple charged with a criminal case following the death of their two-day-old baby.

Brittany Diekneit and her partner Sean Byrne, of Aurora, face charges of child abuse resulting in death after their baby died while sleeping in bed with his parents.

The cause of Walker’s death remains undetermined after a three-month-long autopsy was completed in April. Police in their affidavits alleged the couple had alcohol and “ignored the substantial and unjustifiable risk of co-sleeping with Walker while being incapacitated and they were thus unable to check on him”, reported the Denver Post.

“I had my perfect family of four,” said Ms Diekneit in her first comments since losing her child last September. “It’s all I ever wanted. I had it for less than 48 hours,” she told Fox News.

“It’s so traumatic. It makes me feel like I have to put the grief on hold sometimes.”

Defence attorney Adam Yoast said the parents’ blood test did not show they were intoxicated.

“At the end of the day, this case is about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and it is an unexplained infant death that cannot be attributed to any one person,” Mr Yoast said, according to Fox News.

“The issue was, is, a natural occurrence, phenomenon, occurred that night that no one could have prevented. Our government, instead of allowing that to exist, has taken upon themselves to criminalize every natural occurrence and every transaction that we undertake in our day-to-day lives.”

Non-profit organisations Elephant Circle, Soul2Soul Sisters, and ProgressNow Colorado have written to the DA’s office condemning the charges against the mother of the toddler.

“Advocates need to have the frame of reproductive justice to a different degree now, post-Dobbs [the case in which the US Supreme Court reversed abortion rights],” Kayla Frawley, ProgressNow’s legislative director told the Denver Post.

“We have to see how these cases relate to the criminalization of pregnancy itself now. We know the gravity of these cases and that they’re happening and they’re often not amplified and not publicized because they’re done to families that are very low-resourced.”

Since their child’s death, the couple’s two-year-daughter has been living with Ms Diekneit’s parents as they are not allowed to meet the toddler alone or have contact with each other.

“I’m not very good with words when I speak them out loud, but I’d like to say I’m really good at writing,” Ms Diekneit said and added that she created an email account for their son and writes to him as a way of remembering him.

“I promised myself that I would remember everything about him from when he was here. The way he smelled, every single [thing] I can remember about him – I repeat it to myself so I’ll never ever forget.”

An arraignment hearing has been scheduled for 16 June.

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