Warren Woman Sentenced In Child Drowning Death

A Warren woman will spend six months in county prison on a child endangerment charge stemming from the drowning death of her 2-year-old child last summer.

Nichol V. Barrett, 26, Warren, was sentenced on a single count of endangering the welfare of children by President Judge Maureen Skerda on Friday.

The incident took place in August and started when an area resident called 911 to report “finding two small children and a dog in Hatch Run Creek, a short distance from the Conewango River,” police alleged in the affidavit of probable cause. The resident reported that the children — a 5-year-old girl and 4-year-old male — told her that their “mother is gone” and that their mother “went away.”

Shortly thereafter, police say a call was forwarded to state police from Nichol Barrett.

“During this phone call,” police allege, Barrett “reported finding her daughter floating face down in Hatch Run Creek.”

Troopers attempted CPR but the child was pronounced dead at Warren General Hospital and an autopsy determined the cause of death to be drowning.

After discussions about timelines and distance from the residence, police indicated in the affidavit several statements Nichol Barrett made. “I am admitting if that is what happened, I am at fault for it and I’m wrong for it.”

“I lost track of time and let my daughter go for 40 minutes, so ya, apparently, I’m bad. … I shouldn’t have been on my phone trying to get my daughter into school while my kids were outside. If they were gone for that long, it’s my bad and I apologize for it. I am going to be paying for it for the rest of my life.”

“This is a very tragic case,” her attorney, Eric Hackwelder, told Skerda on Friday.

He argued that there wasn’t any “intentional” conduct but a “neglect factor.

“She is very remorseful,” she said. “I can see it in her. It’s genuine.”

Assistant District Attorney Tatiana Malys criticized the “oratory zeal” in a sentencing memorandum filed by the defense that she argued should result in the memo being disregarded.

She said there is no greater punishment for Barrett than having lost her child to negligence.

“I’m really sorry that this happened,” Barrett said. “(I) wish I could take that day back but I can’t.”

Skerda told Barrett she was “sorry for your loss” but also said she presided over a dependency case which revealed similar issues “for quite a few years.”

She indicated a long period of incarceration was unlikely to change the circumstances but that some period of time was appropriate.

“(The) incident came from a long period of time where there was intervention,” Skerda added, noting that Children and Youth Services had been to the home many times.

Skerda then sentenced Barrett to six to 12 months in county prison, three years probation, $1,000 in fines and fees, 90 hours of community service, parenting classes, a mental health evaluation and compliance with recommendations, submission of a DNA sample and work release and early reentry eligibility.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.60/week.

Subscribe Today