Parents plea not guilty
Jury trial set for March 2
A couple accused of killing their infant pleaded not guilty to four felony charges.
Jacob Anthony Joseph Triplett and Amanda Dawn Triplett appeared in the Third District Court of Judge Nena James at an arraignment to first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and two counts of child abuse.
If the couple is found guilty of the first-degree murder charge, they can face the death penalty, life in prison without parole or life in prison. The maximum sentence for the other charges is 35 years and a maximum fine on all counts of $40,000.
A jury trial has been scheduled to take place March 2, 2015, at 9 a.m.
According to court documents, on Sept. 15, 2014, Rock Springs Police officers responded to the Tripletts’ home in Rock Springs to assist with a medical call involving an infant that had stopped breathing. Emergency medical staff noted the girl’s temperature to be 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, 2014, detectives from the Green River Police Department conducted 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 the deceased girl’s twin and they were both born seven weeks premature.
Upon examining K.T., detectives found the child was 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 the child identified as S. to be brain dead and were going to end the infant’s life support.
RSPD officers traveled to Salt Lake City to interview the Tripletts. While speaking to the two, Amanda said she woke up from a nap at about 1 p.m. Sept. 15, 2014, 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 to keep the bottle in place. Amanda told the investigators she did not supervise the infants’ feeding; and often left 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 Sept. 16, 2014, concluded S had healing rib fractures on the right sixth, seventh and eighth ribs. During a follow up interview with Dr. Vargas-While on Sept. 17, 2014, the doctor stated it was 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 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 allegedly revealed the girl had minor markings on her body that indicated abuse. It also revealed S’s rib injuries were healing and were estimated to have been between two-to-six weeks old. Medical examiners also found evidence indicating S had suffered from severe dehydration and malnutrition. Doctors also noted S’s low temperature at the time emergency medical personnel arrived at the Triplett home indicated S would have died significantly before the time Amanda found S.
According to 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 obtained from the Wyoming Department of Health, stated Amanda and the four children were qualified for medical coverage starting May of 2014r, prior to the twins’ birth.
Discharge documents were also reviewed and showed the twins had an appointment with Dr. Amy Dolce on May 29, 2014, 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
During the examination, both N.L. and L.T. displayed an injury to the top of their head. Documents state N.L. was hesitant to report if the injury was the result of their father hitting or tapping on the head, but concluded the injury would be unusual if self-inflicted or accidental. Other bruising was found on N.L.’s upper arm, which the report found consistent with a grab mark. The report also stated both children are at risk for emotional and health problems as a result of being abused and neglected.