Compare this post to the one directly below. In this post you'll see that the step "mom" was just convicted of manslaughter in the death of her husband's 21-month-old son, who was killed during Dad's custodial visit. However, there isn't one word hinting that the father was responsible for leaving the baby in the care of a mentally unstable caretaker (note that she had just gone off her medications for an unspecified mental health condition). And notice that this woman claims she just wanted to "poison" (not kill) the boy, so SHE AND DADDY COULD TAKE CUSTODY AWAY FROM MOM by blaming her for the boy's condition. Are we to assume Daddy didn't know of or even encourage her fantasies in any way? Hmm. But either way, he's treated as a wide-eyed innocent in the affair.
Contrast this case to the post below this one. A mom is charged when a father with a history of violence kills her child. It seems to me that her options for protecting this child were probably fewer than the options of the father above. And yet she's being held "responsible" and going to trial on child endangering charges, while the father above is not. This is a complete double standard of parental accountability--that moms are responsible for their male partner's violence against their kids--even when they are also being threatened or battered, while fathers are never responsible for leaving their kids in the care of a crazy, delusional girlfriend or mom who hurts or kills them. Why is that?
Woman gets 20 years in poisoning death of stepson
Staff report • December 6, 2010, 8:05 pm
The father of the boy fatally poisoned by an Elmira woman was not satisfied with the prison sentence handed down to her Monday in Chemung County Court.
Judge Peter C. Buckley sentenced Melissa Engelhardt, 24, to 20 years in state prison followed by five years of post-release supervision. In a bench trial in October, Buckley ruled Engelhardt was guilty of first-degree manslaughter and not guilty of second-degree murder in the Nov. 10, 2009, death of her stepson, 21-month-old Andrew J. Cianfrini of Batavia.
"I still don't think 20 years is long enough. I'm just glad she'll never see my children again," George Engelhardt, Melissa's husband, told WENY-TV after the sentencing.
The toddler was on a custodial visit to his father in Elmira when Melissa Engelhardt poured windshield washer fluid mixed with a sweet beverage into the boy's sippy cup. The boy died of methanol poisoning; methanol is a component in some windshield washer fluids, as well as antifreeze.
Melissa and George Engelhardt have one natural child, born before the October trial.
A girl younger than age 5 also was removed from the Engelhardt home by Child Protective Services when Melissa Engelhardt was initially charged.
Melissa Engelhardt cried in the courtroom as Andrew's mother, Kristen Cianfrini, and grandparents read statements to the court.
Outside the courthouse, Cianfrini said of the sentence:
"It's better than I figured it was going to be on the way that he sentenced her to only manslaughter. It's not 25 (years); it's not life, but at least her kids will be old enough to know why she wasn't there and what she did," Cianfrini said.
In deciding the sentence, Buckley told the courtroom he factored in Engelhardt's history of mental health issues and the fact that she did not take her medication at the time the crime was committed.
She told Elmira police investigators she didn't intend to kill the child.
"I didn't want him to die," Engelhardt said in the statement. "I just wanted to make him sick."
Engelhardt said she wanted to blame Andrew's mother for the poisoning to help her and George Engelhardt gain custody of the child.
More than a dozen witnesses testified during the two-day trial, including a toxicologist, a computer forensics expert and the child's biological parents.
Engelhardt faced a maximum sentence of 25 years.