Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

Couple charged in child's death

$1 million bonds set

 


(Editor’s Note: this story contains information some readers may find unpleasant.)

An infant is dead and her parents have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with her death.

Last week, Jacob, 26, and Amanda Triplett, 24, were arrested by the Rock Springs Police Department after the Tripletts’ four-month-old daughter died earlier in the week.

In addition to the first-degree murder charge, they also face two charges of felony child abuse and one charge of aggravated child abuse. The child abuse charges carry a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 while the aggravated child abuse charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. For first-degree murder, the maximum sentence can be life in prison and a $10,000 fine. The death penalty can also be sought against someone convicted of first-degree murder.

On Monday, the two made their initial appearances via webcam in Rock Springs Circuit Court. During the hearing, Deputy County Attorney Ed Newell argued against granting either defendant bond, saying the seriousness of the murder charge would allow the judge to not set bond. Newell said if a bond needed to be set, it should be set at $1 million cash only.

“I believe the state is correct and I do not have to set any bond,” Circuit Court Judge Craig Jones said.

However, before the bond was set, Jacob Triplett said he would like the opportunity to be released on bond.

“I don’t know anyone with that kind of money,” he told the court. 

Jacob said he wanted the opportunity to work and get the money needed to give his daughter a proper burial, saying he believes she deserves to be put to rest properly. The request was denied and the bond was set.

According to court documents, the RSPD responded to the Tripletts’ home in Rock Springs Sept. 15 to assist with a medical call involving an infant that had stopped breathing. Emergency medical staff noted the girl’s temperature to be 24 degrees Celsius, which equates to approximately 75.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

The girl was taken to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County and was found to be malnourished and dehydrated. The infant was then taken into protective custody by the Wyoming Department of Family Services and was transported to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.

On Sept. 16, detectives from the Green River Police Department visited an address in Green River to conduct a welfare check on the Tripletts’ three other children. The children are a four-year-old boy identified as N.L., a two-year-old boy identified as L.T. and a four-month-old girl identified as K.T.  

K.T. is identified as the deceased girl’s twin. K.T. and the girl who died, identified as S., were born seven weeks premature.

Upon examining K.T., the detectives found the child to be malnourished and immediately had the infant transported to MHSC. K.T. was later transported to Primary Children’s Hospital, and the three children were taken into protective custody. Afterward, medical personnel determined S. to be brain dead and were going to end the infant’s life support.

A sergeant and a detective from the RSPD traveled to Salt Lake City to interview the two parents. While speaking to the two, Amanda Triplett said she woke up from a nap at about 1 p.m. Sept. 15 and noticed S. was breathing abnormally. She said she tried to wake S. up, but the infant was unresponsive. She notified Jacob, who started giving the child rescue breaths.

Documents state 15 minutes after he started giving rescue breaths, Amanda called her mother for a ride to the hospital, but was unable to contact her. Jacob then called 911 for an ambulance.

Amanda allegedly told the investigators she had not sought medical attention or follow-up appointments with doctors after giving birth to K.T. and S., against doctors’ recommendations. Amanda stated during the interview that she did not have a vehicle to transport the infants and that her family and friends were often too busy to give her a ride.

Amanda allegedly discontinued using the brand of baby formula and feeding instructions recommended by her doctor and started using a less expensive formula.

To feed the infants, Amanda is alleged to have used a propping method of keeping the bottles in the babies’ mouths. Blankets would be packed around the infants faces and the bottle would be held in place by the blankets. Amanda told the investigators she did not supervise the infants’ feeding, leaving them to care for the other two children.

When asked about how much formula mixture she would use to prepare the bottles, documents state Amanda gave an estimate that wasn’t in line with the formula’s instructions and would result in a diluted mixture. She also said Jacob didn’t feed the babies because he didn’t know his own strength and was afraid of hurting them. She also said Jacob drank a pint of whiskey on most nights.

After the interview, life support for S. was discontinued.

A medical report authored by Dr. Raquel Vargas-While on Sept. 16 concluded S. had healing rib fractures on the right sixth, seventh and eighth ribs. During a follow up interview with Dr. Vargas-While occurring Sept. 17, the doctor stated her opinion that severe malnourishment and dehydration resulted in the child suffering from cardiac arrest.

Dr. Vargas-Whale also said that while examining K.T., two broken posterior ribs were discovered, one on each side of her body. K.T.’s bone lab tests were normal. Dr. Vargas-Whale also said she believed fractures suffered by S.T. and K.T. indicated abusive handling, saying the fractures K.T. had were indicative of a “squeezing mechanism,” as if they were picked up by their ribs and squeezed. The doctor also noted that following the infants’ initial discharge from the hospital, Amanda would have been informed to take them to a doctor within a week of returning home.

Dr. Vargas-Whale also told investigators that the propping method Amanda used, in conjunction with her switching the formula without informing a doctor lead to the severe dehydration and malnourishment the twins suffered from.

An autopsy performed on S.T. revealed the girl had minor markings on her body that indicated abuse. It also revealed S.T.’s rib injuries were healing and were estimated to have been between two and six weeks old. Medical examiners also found evidence indicating S.T. had suffered from severe dehydration and malnutrition. Doctors also noted S.T.’s low temperature at the time emergency medical personnel arrived at the Triplett home indicated S.T. would have died significantly before the time Amanda found S.T.

According to the charging documents, Amanda told doctors she did not feed the infants the recommended Neosure formula, which contained 24 calories per ounce. The formula found during a search of Tripletts’ home contained 20 calories per ounce. In addition to how Amanda is alleged to have diluted the formula, investigators believe the twins would have only received 13 calories per ounce and would have been malnourished even if they consumed the entire contents of a bottle.

During the search at the Tripletts home, investigators discovered the infants’ room only contained a playpen with its mattress featuring two indentations and a white residue around those indentations. Investigators believe the playpen is where the twins slept and only had a single blanket and no sheets on the mattress. Investigators also noted the room was bare, save for a television on a stand. The older children’s room was also discovered to be bare, except for two mattresses on the floor, each with a single blanket, no sheets and “filthy pillows.” 

Documents procured from the Wyoming Department of Health, stated Amanda and the four children were qualified for medical coverage starting May of this year, prior to the twins’ birth.

Discharge documents were also reviewed and showed the twins had an appointment with Dr. Amy Dolce on May 29, two days after they were discharged from the hospital.

Evaluations on L.T. and N.L. were conducted at Primary Children’s Hospital and concluded both children had developmental delays. Despite having a normal birth weight and height, the report stated L.T. is the average size of a nine-month-old at 21 months of age while N.L. is the average size of a 30-month-old at four years old. The report also states N.L.’s bone age doesn’t suggest a hormone-based growth delay

The Tripletts’ preliminary hearings will take place Sept. 30 at Rock Springs Circuit Court.

 

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