You may have seen the very upsetting story from Florida about the 8 ½-foot-long pet Burmese python that escaped from its glass aquarium in the living room, slithered into a 2-year-old’s bedroom, coiled itself around the baby and killed it.
Now the question is: Should the parents be criminally charged and if so, to what extent?
Ocala.com reports: The parents, 32-year-old Charles Jason Darnell and 23-year-old Jaren Ashley Hare, could face charges ranging from child abuse to aggravated manslaughter. Or no charges at all.
Prosecutors will carefully assess to what degree culpable negligence played a part in the child’s death.
“Culpable negligence is defined as involving acts of such ‘gross and flagrant character’ to evince ‘reckless disregard of human life or of the safety of persons.’ ”
” ‘If [Darnell] is a caregiver and if he acted with culpable negligence, they could consider a charge for aggravated manslaughter of a child,’ said Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney from South Florida, raising one hypothetical scenario.”
Manslaughter, a first-degree felony, is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
“But by his accounts, Stetson University criminal law professor Robert Batey believes culpable negligence can be ‘a fairly difficult standard to reach.’ ”
” ‘Maybe the parents here used pretty poor judgment, but [the state may determine] it doesn’t rise to the level of culpable negligence,’ he said.
“Such factors in reaching a decision, Batey added, include how secure the python’s cage was to the proximity of the cage to the baby’s crib to factual reports that the python had escaped once earlier in the night and was placed back in its cage by the father.”
What do you think: Was it completely beyond their control, just poor judgment, or did they do something criminally wrong? Would you think differently if a large dog attacked and killed the child? Have the parents been punished enough just knowing their pet killed their baby? (I can’t even imagine living with that! I want to go up and check my 2-year-old right now!) What would an appropriate punishment be?