Coroner Robert Byrd was cited by AL.com as saying that 30-year-old Carlton James Mathis, of Gainsville, died in the Houston County jail in Dothan on Friday, Aug. 30. Corrections officers reportedly found his body at around 10 p.m.
Lt. Heath Carpenter of the State Bureau of Investigation was cited by AL.com as saying emergency crews tried to resuscitate Mathis, but were unsuccessful.
Unnamed sources cited by WTVY said Mathis had apparently hanged himself with a bed sheet.
The official cause of death is expected to be announced once the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has performed an autopsy.
Mathis was scheduled for trial in November in the death of his 6-month-old son Curtis James Oakes, who died in 2018 after ingesting methamphetamine. Citing authorities, The Associated Press reported the baby’s body had been found in an Alabama motel room freezer.
Fox News reported that Mathis was originally charged with murder before that charge was dismissed in favor of a manslaughter charge, as well as corpse abuse.
The baby’s mother, 36-year-old Amanda Gail Oakes, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and corpse abuse earlier this week and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. She had agreed to testify against Mathis, reported by The Associated Press to have been her boyfriend at the time of the baby’s death.
‘It Was Traumatic’
Referring to Oakes’s sentencing, Houston County District Attorney Pat Jones said, “And, a 99-year sentence is the maximum that would be available and we think that would be appropriate for these cases,” according to WSFA12 News.
“We’re pleased with the outcomes,” said Jones.
Mother gets 99 years over death of baby found in freezer https://t.co/AQ0AE8FAuP
— FOX10News | WALA (@FOX10News) August 29, 2019
WSFA12 News reported that before Oakes pleaded guilty to the murder of her baby, the witnesses had already begun their testimony. On Tuesday, Oakes’s daughter spoke before the jurors.
“It was hard for her daughter to testify against her mother. It was traumatic. I suspect she probably suffers from some PTSD having gone through all this trauma,” said Jones.
While in Oakes’s care, her teenage daughter was exposed to drug use, given marijuana, and was present during the shootout that led Police arresting Oakes in Florida, Jones said.
“There was a big shootout and I believe—if I’m not mistaken—the she received shrapnel in her leg,” said Jones. “It’s a miracle she didn’t die in this whole crazy escapade.”
Tennessee Mother Puts Her Infant in Freezer
In a similar case, a Tennessee mother who put her baby inside a freezer and closed the lid has had her charges upgraded to a felony charge of aggravated child abuse and neglect.
Brittany Smith is accused of putting the baby in the freezer the week prior, according to WJHL.
A witness told police officers he saw the 19-year-old mother place the 8-month-old baby into an unused freezer in the backyard of a house that wasn’t hers.
The mother pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of child neglect only, instead of aggravated child abuse.
Judge Stacy Street sentenced Smith to two years of probation, reported WCYB.
Fatalities Among Young Children
According to American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC), 1,720 children died due to abuse and neglect in the country in 2017 and 80.1 percent fatalities involved at least one parent.
Of the total number of children who died, 75.4 percent suffered neglect and 41.6 percent suffered from physical abuse.
SPCC said drug and alcohol abuse among parents and caregivers played a role in child neglect and abuse—1 in 3 or 2 in 3 cases of child maltreatment involve drug abuse by the assaulter to some extent.
The child maltreatment report by the Child Welfare Information Gateway says that the number of children who received child protective services investigation increased 10 percent from 3,184,000 in 2013 to 3,501,000 in 2017.
The report says the percentage of neglect victims with drug abuse caregiver increased from 27.1% in 2015 to 30.8% in 2017.
According to DoSomething.org, approximately five children die every day in the United States because of child abuse. Over 70 percent of these children are below the age of three.
Every year 2.9 million cases of child abuse are reported in the country and about 80 percent of 21-year-olds who were abused as children suffered from one or the other psychological disorder.
A substantial number of those present in prisons have been abused, this includes 14 percent of men and 36 percent of women.
Associated Press and Venus Upadhayaya contributed to this report.17-year-old turns himself in 2 days after shooting 10 teens at Friday night football game