Couple sentenced in child’s death

DALLAS — An Independence couple who were charged in August in the death of the woman’s 2-year-old daughter were sentenced in Polk County Circuit Court Friday.

Rebecca Watkins and Codey Campbell both pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and were sentenced to 36 months and 18 months in prison, respectively.

Polk County Circuit Court Judge Monte Campbell issued the sentences Friday.

They were originally charged with manslaughter in the first and second degree, endangering the welfare of a minor and first-degree child neglect. The charges were related to the Feb. 24, 2014, drowning death of Watkins’ daughter, Noelle Watkins. Noelle was left unattended in the bathtub when the incident occurred.

Polk County District Attorney Aaron Felton said the pair agreed to plead guilty through a plea bargain agreement with his office. Felton said while both Watkins and Campbell, Watkins’ boyfriend, were guilty of the negligence that led to the girl’s death, the mother was more culpable.

“The mother physically put this child in the bathtub,” he said, noting her daughter’s doctor warned Watkins not to leave the child unattended in the bath. “This is a different (level) of negligence.”

That led to prosecutors asking for 36 months, twice the presumptive sentence based on Watkins’ lack of criminal history.

Felton said the remainder of the charges were dropped, in part because the defendants were willing to take responsibility.

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