NEWTON, N.C. (WBTV) – A Catawba County mother pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter in the drowning death of her 4-year old son. Attorneys say negligent supervision by both parents led to the child’s death.
Kelli Elizabeth Ledford, 32, was given an active sentence of 16-29 months at the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections. Her husband, Dustin Sanders, is serving a 19-32 month sentence for the same offense.
In court, Ledford begged for the court’s mercy, “I have been in that cell a long time. I deal with this every day, every single day,” she said. “I could have put a jacket on him while they were playing. This has been hard on my family and so hard on me. Please have mercy on me.”
On May 24, 2014 Ledford’s son, Logan Putnam, was playing near a dock with his two siblings at Lookout Shoals Lake without personal flotation devices. Officials say Ledford was more than 200 feet away from where the children were playing and had an obstructed view of them.
Personal flotation devices were provided to Ledford and Sanders through a third party, but witnesses say Sanders put them in a trunk of a vehicle. Putnam was found by his brother after he had been under water for around 15 minutes.
The 4-year-old was flown to Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem where he died. Medical officials say Putnam died because of severe brain damage and drowning by water inhalation.
Witnesses say a similar event happened a month earlier when the children were found unsupervised in a boat floating down the river without personal flotation devices. Another adult brought them back to shore.