Mount Vernon parents plead guilty to negligent homicide after starving baby to death

MOUNT VERNON, NY  — A Mount Vernon couple pled guilty to Criminally Negligent Homicide on June 15, Westchester District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah announced. Parents Henry Lantigua and Shannelle Straker were charged in the death of their six-week-old baby in the mother’s Mount Vernon home.

“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.”

On May 31, 2018, Mount Vernon Police and emergency services responded to 911 calls from the South Fifth Avenue apartment where Straker lived with her mother and her two children, including an infant, Jessamine Lantigua, who was born April 16, 2018. Jessamine’s father, Lantigua, lived nearby.

Both parents called 911 and on arrival, EMS found the infant unresponsive. They took the baby to Montefiore-Mount Vernon Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Medical and emergency personnel including EMS, the police and in the emergency room, noted the infant was emaciated and had a severe rash covering most of her body and her face.

The medical examiner determined that the death was a homicide and that the infant died from being undernourished, weighing only slightly more than she did at birth – a weight doctors would expect at 2.5  weeks of age for this child.

The case was before Judge Barry Warhit, AJSC, in Westchester County Court, and was prosecuted by Child Abuse Bureau Chief Christine Hatfield and Assistant District Attorney Owein Levin of the Special Prosecutions Division.

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