Tuscaloosa mom charged with abuse of her two infants

A Tuscaloosa mother has been charged with child abuse of her six-week-old daughter who died in September and her 1-year-old son, who is now in custody of DHR.

Leslie Ashcraft Essman, 30, was charged Wednesday, July 6 with two counts of aggravated child abuse for leaving her six-week-old baby unattended for around 12 hours on September 26, 2010. Capt. Loyd Baker with the Tuscaloosa Police Department said the baby's mother was asleep for a large portion of the time she left the little girl in her crib.  

An adult male relative also staying at Essman's residence in Holt awoke on the evening of Sept. 26 and saw the baby was having trouble breathing. Paramedics arrived at the residence and took the infant girl to DCH Regional Medical Center. The baby was later transported to Children's Hospital in Birmingham, where she died the following day.

An autopsy showed that four conditions contributed to the baby's death: coagulopathy (blood clotting issue that can cause excessive bleeding), Acute Tubular Necrosis (damage to kidneys), multiple small bowel infarcts (caused by restricted blood flow to bowels) and a hypoxic brain injury (lack of oxygen to the brain).

The charges against Essman for aggravated abuse of her 1-year-old son stem from the same 12-hour period of neglect. The little boy did not need medical attention.

A grand jury heard the case against Essman twice before finally indicting her on Wednesday. Essman is being held in the Tuscaloosa County Jail with a bond of $100,000.

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