The mother of a baby who apparently died from secondhand crack cocaine smoke pleaded guilty Friday in the little girl's death.
Jamie Lynn Jockers, 26, pleaded guilty to amended charges of second-degree manslaughter and drug possession. She most likely faces a 12-year sentence when she returns in December to Franklin County Circuit Court.
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The case made headlines in 2006 when Jockers and her live-in boyfriend, Michael McIntyre, were indicted on murder charges because they allegedly smoked crack in the presence of 5-month-old Brooklyn P. McIntyre. Toxicology results showed she died from cocaine intoxication.
McIntyre agreed to a plea deal in 2007 and was sentenced to 25 years related to this case and others.
If Jockers' case went to trial, both her public defender and the prosecutor said the case was not a slam dunk for either side.
The relatively minuscule amount of research on crack smoke overdosing in infants and the emotionally charged nature of a baby's death created a difficult and unpredictable playing field, said public defender Rodney Barnes.
Barnes said it was possible the baby was accidentally smothered by McIntyre. He also said that Jockers didn't smoke in front of her child, but did allow McIntyre to do so.
Still, there was enough cocaine in the baby's blood to be consistent with killing a small child. A jury seeking justice for an infant might not accept an argument that something else other than the crack smoking killed the baby, Barnes said.
"It's a good science issue, but not a very good jury issue," he said. "People expect parents to protect their kids."
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Dana Todd also said proving the child died from the secondhand crack smoke could have been tough.
"We don't know exactly how much cocaine that baby was exposed to. We know any amount is dangerous, but what amount is fatal could be a proof issue," she said.
Protecting Jockers' other two daughters was also a priority, Todd said. As part of her plea deal, Jockers terminated her parental rights to the 5- and 7-year-old girls, who are with a foster family.