Greene County couple pleads guilty in middle of trial to charges connected with death of son

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A couple from Strafford, Mo. pleaded guilty in the middle of a trial to charges related to care before the death of their son.

A judge sentenced Roseanna Danley, 42, and Jeffery Nelsen, 35, to seven years in prison on two counts of neglect of a child. Prosecutors argued the two failed to provide medical and dental care to their 23-month-old son in 2014.

Investigators said Danley and Nelsen did take the boy to a hospital because he was vomiting, had a fever of 103 degrees, and wasn’t moving around much. Doctors couldn’t determine why the boy was sick. A doctor recommended he be admitted to the hospital “for additional fluids and observations but Danley and Nelsen declined.” Investigators say the doctor gave the parents a prescription and instructions for how to care for their son. And the doctor recommended a follow-up with a pediatrician.

Investigators say Danley and Nelsen told them they picked up the prescription and went back to their apartment. They then said the boy got better. However, they told investigators the boy got sick again days later. Investigators say the mother then called 911 and began CPR. The boy later died at a hospital.

A pathologist did an autopsy in Columbia and concluded the boy died from “peritonitis and sepsis” as well as a “ruptured appendix.” He ruled the manner of death to be “natural.” The pathologist noticed that Gabriel’s teeth were missing large portions of enamel.

Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers and supports most of your abdominal organs. Peritonitis is usually caused by infection from bacteria or fungi.

The Centers for Disease Control defines sepsis as a “complication caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. It is difficult to predict, diagnose, and treat. Patients who develop sepsis have an increased risk of complications and death and face higher healthcare costs and longer treatment.”