Police: Baby dies after Peach Bottom mother disregards repeated advice against co-sleeping

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FULTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WPMT) – A Lancaster County mother is facing charges after her 2 month old son was smothered while co-sleeping in her bed in July, according to court documents.

Jessica M. Harper, 29, of Peach Bottom, is charged with criminal homicide, involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of children. She was arraigned Thursday and taken to Lancaster County Prison without bail.

State Troopers responded to the 2600 block of Robert Fulton Highway in Fulton Township on July 12 for a report of a 2 month-old infant not breathing. The baby, who was only identified as Harper's son, was pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy performed on July 13 revealed the baby died from asphyxiation. His death was ruled a homicide.

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Mother charged after baby dies as they co-slept
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Mother charged after baby dies as they co-slept

Jessica M. Harper, 29, is facing charges after her 2 month old son was smothered while co-sleeping in her bed in July.

(Photo credit: WPMT)

Jessica M. Harper, 29, is facing charges after her 2 month old son was smothered while co-sleeping in her bed in July.

(Photo credit: WPMT)

Jessica M. Harper, 29, is facing charges after her 2 month old son was smothered while co-sleeping in her bed in July.

(Photo credit: WPMT)

Jessica M. Harper, 29, is facing charges after her 2 month old son was smothered while co-sleeping in her bed in July.

(Photo credit: WPMT)

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According to court documents, the baby slept in a bed between Harper and her 3 year-old daughter.

This wasn't the first child of Harper's to die under similar circumstances, according to the criminal complaint and affidavit. In January 2011, Harper's 2 month-old baby died of positional asphyxiation while sleeping in Cecil County, Maryland.

On multiple occasions Harper was informed about the risks of co-sleeping, but disregarded what she was told by various medical experts and Children and Youth, according to court documents.

After the birth of her son in May 2016, Harper was informed about safe sleeping and was made to watch a video on safe sleeping prior to being discharged from Lancaster General Hospital, court documents state.

Just six days before her son died, Harper was again told by her pediatrician at Diamantoni and Associates about the dangers of co-sleeping. But Harper said she was "going to do it anyway," according to the criminal complaint

Police say Harper displayed a willful disregard of a known, unjustified and extremely high risk conduct, which resulted in the death of her son.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 20.

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