Riverton woman charged in connection with the co-sleeping death of her seven-week-old baby

By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com

(Riverton, Wyo.) – A 29-year-old Riverton woman scheduled to be released from Federal prison on Monday, April 1, 2013, has a Fremont County arrest warrant waiting for her on charges of Child Abuse and Criminally Negligent Homicide. Crystal Dresser is charged in connection with the October 14, 2012, death of her son, seven-week-old Leviticus Whiteman. The Fremont County Coroner’s Office, in a case docket and verdict released in the case, said an autopsy determined the infant died of overlay asphyxia due to co-sleeping.

Leviticus Whiteman

Leviticus Whiteman

According to an affidavit filed to support the charges, Riverton police were called to 417 Spruce Street at 10:38 a.m. on the report of a deceased infant. Arriving officers found the infant not breathing and CPR administered to the baby was unsuccessful.

Present at the scene when police arrived were Dresser and Shaw Whiteman, 30, identified as the father of the child. “While on scene, officers obtained breath samples from Dresser and Whiteman,” according to the affidavit. “Dresser provided a positive alcohol reading of .17 percent B.A.C. on a portable breath test. Whiteman provided a positive alcohol reading of .09 percent B.A.C. Both Dresser and Whiteman admitted to drinking alcohol on the previous evening.”

During interviews, the affidavit asserts that both Dresser and Whiteman admitted to sleeping in the same bed with the infant, waking up to discover he was not breathing. In a follow-up interview conducted on Nov. 5, 2012, Dresser “admitted that she ‘probably’ accidentally rolled over on the baby,” according to the affidavit.

The charge of Child Abuse is a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than five years and the charge of Criminally Negligent Homicide is a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of not more than one  year, a fine of not more than $2,000 or both.

Dresser is presently housed in a Federal Department of Prisons women’s facility in Dublin, California.

Unsafe sleep practices are the number one cause of local infant deaths according to Fremont County Public Health Nursing. A program to reduce this tragic statistic was launched late last year called “Pack and Play.” To read about that prevention program, click here.