The Augusta mother whose 2-year-old son drowned after wandering around outside unsupervised pleaded guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children.
Lisa J. Stocker, 39, admitted in Richmond County Superior Court that Daniel’s death was her fault because she was responsible for the toddler.
Stocker was initially charged with murder but Thursday the charges was reduced with a recommended sentence of eight years in prison followed by 12 years probation.
Judge J. Wade Padgett accepted the sentencing recommendation, telling Stocker that she has become an extreme example of what happens when prescription drugs are abused.
Video from a neighbor’s security cameras showed Daniel in his Creighton Place yard about 7:42 a.m. on March 21, 2012, after his older brothers left for school, said Assistant District Attorney Adam Land.
An hour later, a neighbor noticed the Stockers’ dogs were loose and went to the Stockers’ home to let her know, Land said. About 20 minutes later, she called the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
Emergency personnel searched the rest of the morning for Daniel. His body was found in the bottom of the family’s debris-filled pool around 12:30 p.m.
Investigator Tim Owen found numerous prescription pill bottles in the master bathroom, most of which were empty or contained so few pills it was obvious Stocker was taking far more than the prescribed dosages, Land said.
Stocker taught her older sons how to dose Daniel’s milk with Benadryl, Land said. At the time of Daniel’s death, he had Benadryl and two controlled substances in his system, indicating that he had ingested the medication within 24 hours of his death, Land said.
At that time, Stocker’s husband was working as a contractor in the Atlanta area and she was home alone with the boys.
Daniel’s death was the second tragedy for the family, she told the judge. In 2005, a daughter was born stillborn. She should have gotten mental health treatment then, but it wasn’t until after Daniel’s birth that Stocker was treated for anxiety and depression with medications that she became addicted to, her attorney John Lewis said.
Stocker had never been in trouble, never used illegal drugs and doesn’t even drink alcohol, Lewis said.