36ºF

Judge says she doesn't believe woman intended to cause baby's scalding death

PONTIAC, Mich. – A judge on Tuesday said she didn't believe an 18-year-old woman intended to cause the death of her 1-year-old cousin who died after suffering burns from being put in scalding hot bath water. 

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot said it was Breeze Henke's family's fault for leaving her to watch four children under the age of 4 in July 2014. 

"I don't know how anyone could handle four kids under the age of 4 in the conditions she had," Chabot said. "It's very clear to me that she didn't intend any harm. In fact, the facts reveal that she was running around trying to address all of the emergencies that were occurring at the time.”

Henke pleaded guilty to manslaughter and child abuse in Samaria Chamber's death.

The Oakland County Sheriff's Office said Henke, who was 17 at the time, was babysitting Samaria and the other children.

Henke told police she had started to draw a bath for Samaria but got distracted, and one of the other children turned up the hot water dial.

Samaria was rushed to the hospital with second- and third-degree burns from her stomach down. She died from her injuries more than a week later. 

"If I could change everything, I would," Henke told the court at her sentencing. 

"This is an outrageously tragic case," Chabot said. 

She sentenced Henke to one year in jail on both counts.