Lori Conley insisted that what happened to the baby in her care was a one-time mistake. But the judge didn’t believe her.
As The Columbus Dispatch reports, Conley was watching eight children in her home on May 13, 2016. One of those children, 8-month-old Haddix Mulkey, was having a difficult day. Hoping to calm the fussy baby, Conley gave Haddix two Benadryl tablets — an adult dose of the drug.Screenshot/WSYX News
The dosage was lethal for Haddix, who was rushed to the hospital but never recovered. Conley originally told investigators she didn’t know how he died, but confessed to a friend that she’d given Benadryl to Haddix. After asking the same friend which drugs can be detected in toxicology reports, Conley threw away the Benadryl bottle.
As WSYX News reports, after an autopsy determined that Haddix died from a fatal dose of Benadryl, Conley was charged with his death.
According to WSYX, Conley pleaded guilty to child endangerment, tampering with evidence, and involuntary manslaughter. During her sentencing hearing, Conley told Judge Julie M. Lynch that what happened was “out of character for me.” However, Lynch didn’t believe her.
Noting that Conley was clearly overwhelmed by babysitting eight children under six years of age, Lynch told Conley:
“This court does not believe this was your first time doing this.”
Katie Mulkey, Haddix’s mother, agreed. Addressing the court during the hearing, Katie told Lynch that she believes Conley drugged other children, including Haddix’s older sister:
“I know this can’t be proven because the children in her care were all too young to tell you what was really going on, and Benadryl stays in the system for only a short period of time.”
Katie added that she has been suffering from depression since her son’s death:
“You can’t charge her for a broken heart, but you should. Lori killed my son and I’m the one being punished.”
Assistant Prosecutor Michael Hughes told the court that while it was clear Conley never meant to kill Haddix, it didn’t take away the severity of her actions:
“This was not an accident. She purposely and knowingly administered an adult dosage to this young child.”
Conley, who had worked as a babysitter for 17 years, wept openly in court as she read a statement apologizing to the Mulkey family:
“I pray every day that God wraps his arms around the family … I wish I could relive [that day] and erase their pain.”
Lynch gave Conley 15 years in prison, two years fewer than the maximum possible sentence. The judge explained the reduction by saying Conley deserved credit for taking a plea deal and sparing the Mulkey family the pain of a trial.