MORGANTON, N.C. - A Burke County mother, whose 3-year-old son froze to death earlier this year, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in court Monday and could soon walk out of jail.
Jamie Basinger, 24, faced one count each of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse.
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The judge sentenced her to 245 days in prison, which she has already served.
Authorities said her son, 3-year-old Landyn, was found frozen to death March 15 after someone spotted him on the front porch of his home in Morganton. Temperatures that morning were in the 20s with a wind chill.
Landyn celebrated his third birthday the day before he was found dead.
A warrant says Basinger told Burke County sheriff's deputies that she last saw her son at 10:30 p.m. March 14 when she put him to bed. It also says Basinger tested positive for several illegal substances.
On Monday, Basinger fought back tears as prosecutors described the gruesome details of the case.
"I love my kid to death, and I would never do nothing to hurt him," Basinger said.
Prosecutors said Basinger was asleep in her home while her child was outside in the cold. They added that she admitted to using methamphetamine two days earlier, as well as marijuana the day before.
"She didn't hear him. She didn't hear him leave the room. Didn't hear him leave the house. Didn't hear him banging on the door. She was asleep while he was freezing to death," Assistant District Attorney Michelle Lippert said.
Prosecutors said investigators found the toddler’s prints on the outside of the door and believe he tried to get back inside the house.
Basinger’s attorney told the judge that she was prepared to take responsibility for her son’s death and her addiction problem, and that she never intended to harm him.
"She's really never stopped crying since, your honor,” attorney Frank Webster said. “She's here to take responsibility for this. But again, no matter of punishment is gonna take away what's in her heart."
Basinger's mother and other family members watched as she pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. She has been in jail since her arrest last April.
"She was a good mom. She was a good mom,” Brenda Basinger said of her daughter. “She didn't mean for none of this to happen, and she loved her babies."
In addition to being sentenced to the time that she’s already served in jail, Basinger was also placed on three years of probation and will receive an additional 19 months if that probation is violated.
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