Mom on Facebook sentenced in son's drowning death

By The Associated Press

GREELEY, Colo. — A northern Colorado woman who was playing a game on Facebook while her 13-month-old baby drowned in a full bathtub was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison.

Shannon Johnson, 34, of Fort Lupton, cried as District Judge Thomas Quammen told her he didn’t think she was a bad person or that she killed her son on purpose, the Greeley Tribune reported. But, he added, that doesn’t mean her action wasn’t criminal.

“You left this little boy in a bathtub so you could entertain yourself on the computer by playing games,” Quammen said. “And you left that 13-month-old human being, little Joseph, incredibly for those reasons.”

Johnson pleaded guilty in March to negligently causing the death of her child. The charge carried a sentencing range of four to 12 years, but it also left open the possibility she could receive community service or probation. Authorities rejected both of those options, saying they didn’t want to play down the seriousness of her crime.

According to court documents, Johnson put her son in the tub for his bath a little after 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 20. She then left him unsupervised in a bathtub full of water as she went to another room to share videos, check status updates and play Café World on Facebook. Johnson told deputies that Joseph had grown independent and wanted to be left alone in the tub.

When she returned to the bathroom, said she found Joseph sideways and face-down in the tub.

Johnson called 911 to say Joseph wasn’t breathing. Paramedics were able to revive the toddler but he was pronounced dead at a Denver hospital.

She was also sentenced to five years of mandatory parole following her incarceration.