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Westchester Parents Plead Guilty To Roles In Infant's Death

The infant was found unresponsive in a South 5th Avenue apartment.
The infant was found unresponsive in a South 5th Avenue apartment. Photo Credit: Google Maps

A Westchester couple has admitted to their roles in the death of a six-week-old baby, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Mount Vernon residents Henry Lantigua, age 41, and Shannelle Straker, age 39, pleaded guilty this week to criminally negligent homicide following the death of their child in 2018.

Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah said that on May 31, 2018, first responders received multiple calls from a South 5th Avenue apartment, where Straker lived with her mother and two children, including Jessamine Lantigua, who was born on April 16 last year.

Rocah said that during the emergency 911 calls, each parent reported “an unresponsive child,” according to call records. Upon arrival at the apartment, paramedics found the infant not moving or responding.

Paramedics took the baby to Montefiore-Mount Vernon Hospital where she was pronounced dead, Rocah said. Medical and emergency personnel including paramedics and the police in the Emergency Room noted the infant was emaciated and had a severe rash covering most of her body and her face.  

According to the Medical Examiner, the infant’s death was a homicide, and the cause of death was undernourishment, as she weighed only slightly more than she did at birth – a weight doctors would expect at 2 ½ weeks of age for this child.

“This is a horrible tragedy and loss of innocent life,” Rocah said. “Neglect of this infant led to an avoidable death. Parents have an obligation to provide proper care for their children.” 

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