Was a mother responsible for the death of her 3-year-old son, even if the boy was in someone else’s care when he died?
That’s the question sitting at the center of the charges facing Angel Campbell, accused of child endangering and involuntary manslaughter in connection with her son, Amari’s, death. The boy died in a West End apartment fire last month.
“They’re alleging the mother violated a duty of care,” said Brad Groene, a Cincinnati-based child endangerment defense attorney.
Groene is not representing Angel in the case but spoke with WCPO as an expert on the types of charges she’s facing.
According to fire investigators, Angel had left Amari in the care of his grandmother on Feb. 22. Later, the boy was playing with a lighter when he lit a stick of incense and set it on the couch — causing the fire that would eventually take his life.
Hamilton County prosecutors told WCPO the boy’s grandmother wasn’t equipped to care for him but would not specify in what way. That could be why, Groene said, Angel was charged with his death.
“It’s one thing to leave them with the grandparent,” Groene said. “But does the grandparent have a mental disability where they don’t know what’s going on? Can the grandparent physically move? Let’s say the child runs around. Can the grandparent take care of the child?”
Groene said Ohio law stipulates a parent must ensure a caregiver’s ability to look after the child before leaving them under their supervision.
“You have a duty to make sure that Grandma and Grandpa are able to look after that child, physically able to keep that child safe,” he said. “The duty is on the parent to see that.”
Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas as of Tuesday evening had yet to set a preliminary court date for Angel Campbell’s case.