DENVER - Muriel Keer's life was likely spinning out of control well before her son drowned inside a bathtub, but Denver prosecutors strongly believe the mother's history of drug use played a big role in the death of the 10-month old boy. It's why they asked for and received a 40 year prison sentence on Friday.
"If it weren't for Muriel Keer's drug addiction, her drug sales, and her drug world Aldrich Leathers would likely be alive today," said Denver Chief Deputy District Attorney Adrienne Greene during Friday's sentencing hearing.
Greene believes Leathers was left alone inside a bathtub for at least 16-and-a-half minutes on September 20, 2011. The boy was born in November 2010, while Keer was still in custody on an earlier drug case.
"(Keer) was imploding," said Greene, "and none of us in the system paid attention. This 10-month old child is no longer with us because of that."
While Keer was on probation in 2011, for example, Greene said Keer routinely failed to sign up for scheduled urinalysis testing, yet her probation was never revoked. In addition, 19 of the 20 UA's she did take resulted in positive screenings for opiates.
The Denver Department of Human Services also stopped checking in on Keer three months before Greene's death.
"I have to wonder in this particular situation, under these set of facts, what it is we are paying attention to?" said Greene.
Public defender Robert Halpern told Judge John Madden Keer remains devastated by what happened to her son.
"What the center of her universe was - was that child," he said. "She stocked the house for that child. She provided toys, food and love for that child."
"She tried to learn the things she needed, but the other thing that struck me during the trial was the difficulties of being a single mother," he added.
Courtroom 5D was largely empty when Judge John Madden handed down a 36 year sentence for the conviction on the child abuse resulting in death charge. In addition, Judge Madden also gave Keer an additional four years in prison for the 2010 drug case that originally resulted in probation.
"I don't believe for a moment you did this intentionally," said Judge Madden. Yet he added, "This was an accident waiting to happen."
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