Vanessa Clark of Houston, Texas has been convicted of felony child endangerment and faces up to two years in jail after her second child died in her bed. Clark had been warned of the dangers of sleeping with an infant but ignored the warning, and as a result, Tristan Clark died.
In 2011, Vanessa and Mark Clark were indicted on charges of endangerment after the death of their first son, Christian. He had been sleeping in their bed and was smothered either by his parents or the folds of the bed, prosecutors argued. The Clarks were released but warned of the dangers of infants sleeping with their parents.
Less than one year later, though, 2-month-old Tristan suffered the same fate as his brother. He was found dead in his parents' bed, though the Clarks believed it was due to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and not to co-sleeping.
Child Protective Services had told the Clarks of the dangers of co-sleeping, and Vanessa's defense attorney stated that "every ounce of her went into preserving life."
According to reports from the court, Jeremy Reeves insisted that Child Protective Services never explicitly warned the Clarks of the dangers of co-sleeping but instead advised them as to how to do it safely. He stated that there is no law against infants sleeping with their parents, but the prosecutors quickly argued that just because there is no law doesn't make it safe.
"It may not be illegal to sleep with your child, but it is illegal to put your child in imminent danger," stated Dale Summa, lead prosecutor in the case. "Some people never listen, some people never learn."
The jury watched tapes of Clark's interview in the hours following Tristan's death.
"He won't go to sleep in his bassinet. He wakes right back up," she told investigators. "The doctor promised me this wouldn't happen again. I trusted God. I trusted he wouldn't take another child from me."
After she put him in their king-sized bed, both Clarks fell asleep. When she woke up to feed and change Tristan, Vanessa found him cold and stiff. "I knew when I touched him. He was so stiff. I just started screaming. I just wish this wasn't happening and he was back here with me."
Husband Mark is expected to be brought up on the same charges later this year.