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Newport mother sentenced for baby's bathtub death

NEWPORT, Ky. (Joe Webb) -- Almost a year has passed since five-month-old Liam James McKenzie drowned in a bathtub.
   
Tuesday, a judge sentenced his mother to five years in prison for reckless homicide. The reason it took three months for an arrest and another eight months for a guilty plea was trying to nail down if the incident was a tragic accident or an avoidable tragedy.  Also known as a reckless homicide.

That was still the central issue when Amanda McKenzie came to court for sentencing Tuesday, July 22.

McKenzie's attorney, Sheena Baylon, said, "I want to state for the record this was a tragic accident. It has deeply affected Miss McKenzie.  She was trying to work at the time and go to school, to better herself and raise a child alone."
   
Prosecutor Sheryl Heeter told the judge this was a tragedy but no accident.  Mckenzie mixed alcohol and a prescription drug shortly before getting in the tub with her 5-month-old son.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney, Sheryl Egli Heeter, said, "She admitted she had two drinks around 11 to midnight. Other people say she was drinking again around 3:30 A.M. Then she took her medication around 7 A.M. and the baby into the tub around 7:53."
   
Heeter said McKenzie was found unconscious in the tub, her baby floating, dead in the water.  Amanda McKenzie was given the chance to speak Tuesday but chose not to.  Judge Fred Stine sentenced her to five years.  Heeter gave all the credit to Newport police.

"But for the investigation of the Newport police we would have thought this was just a tragic accident.  But because through their investigation and interviews with other witnesses we were able to determine this was a homicide case," said Heeter.

Because McKenzie was a persistent felony offender, she will be eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of her sentence.  It's normally 15-percent.  She will be eligible for parole later this year.

Amanda McKenzie has been locked up since late last year when a grand jury indicted her.  The judge gave her credit for that time.  That's why she will be eligible for parole in a few months.

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