Calling it "the most egregious acts of parenting this court has ever seen" Carbon County Judge Joesph J. Matika sentenced a Palmerton couple to prison terms Thursday for the starvation death of their 11-month old daughter.
Kimberly Ann Taschler, 30, was sentenced to serve 14 to 42 months in a state prison followed by two years of probation. Jacob Adam Taschler, 36, was sentenced to serve 11 months and three days to 24 months less one day in the county prison.
The Taschler's, of 803 Edgemont Ave., pleaded guilty on July 10 admitting their negligence led to the death of their daughter, Kayla Marie Taschler.
Matika told the couple that one of the happiest moments in a couple's life is when they bring a new life into the world. He said that new life relies on the parents providing it with what they need including proper care. He said the Taschler's failed their responsibility as parents in the care for their daughter.
During the emotional proceeding, Kimberly Taschler sobbed and put her face in her hands, at one point, unable to talk.
She told Matika she did not provide the care her daughter needed and did not seek help from others. She added, "There is nothing I can do to bring my daughter back. I have to live with this the rest of my life."
Jacob Taschler told Matika, "There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of my daughter." Crying, he added, "I failed as a parent. I'm so, so sorry."
Defense Attorney Stephen Vlossak, who represents the father, said he was working two jobs at the time when the daughter became ill and died. He said he had not seen her for three days because he would come home from work and was told by his wife the baby was sleeping.
Vlossak said his client cannot answer why he didn't go upstairs and check on his daughter, but he didn't. He said his client was allowed to plea to the one count of endangering the welfare of a child because Mrs. Taschler was the primary caretaker of the infant.
On the day of Kayla's death, Jan. 20, 2010, state police at Lehighton said Kimberly Taschler brought Kayla's lifeless body into the emergency room of the Palmerton hospital.
Trooper Patrick J. Finn, who prosecuted the case, said Kimberly Taschler placed the baby in a car seat in a third floor room of the home in front of a television set and that was where she remained for 16 hours, not receiving any food or water while sitting in the same dirty diaper.
Finn said while the child was in that chair her mother and father were two floors below smoking marijuana. The mother did not check on the child until later the next afternoon.
An autopsy revealed the baby died of dehydration and starvation. Finn's report said the baby probably screamed and cried during those 16 hours but no one checked on her.
Finn also said the lack of care included the couple not taking the child to a doctor's appointment in December, 2010. At a prior visit to the doctor they were told by the physician that he was concerned that the girl had lost weight and wanted to check her again. That visit was eight months after the girl was born, it was noted. The baby weighed 16 pounds at one time. The autopsy revealed she weighed just over 13 pounds at the time of her death.
The report also said the child was not provided fluids and nutrition. Also, markings on the infant's back were found to be eroded skin that was the result of her being exposed to prolonged contact with moisture and bodily wastes.
Assistant District Attorney William E. McDonald, who prosecuted the case, told the court, "There are a lot of tears here today, but none have been shed for Kayla."
He said the commonwealth has not accused the couple of deliberately causing the death of their daughter, but that their "gross, gross negligence" caused the girl to die.
The Taschler's also have two sons, ages six and seven, who are living with a relative.
Matika also noted that while the couple was out on bail awaiting sentencing they had the bail revoked because they were found to be smoking methamphetamine by the adult probation office.
Matika told Mrs. Taschler her negligence also included the day she went to check on her daughter and found her lifeless body. Instead of calling 911, she cleaned herself up and waited for someone to come and drive her to the hospital.
Matika, just prior to imposing the sentence, told the couple, "There is no sentence or punishment I can impose on you that is greater than the one you are now serving."
In addition to jail time, Kimberly Taschler was ordered to get a drug and alcohol and mental health evaluations and follow all recommendations for treatment, zero tolerance imposed on D&A use, supply a DNA sample, and was given credit for 39 days spent in jail on the charges. The prison term was imposed on the charge of involuntary manslaughter. She also pleaded to endangering the welfare of a child, but that charge merged with the manslaughter count for sentencing purposes.
The same conditions were imposed on Jacob Taschler, and he was also given credit for 39 days spent in jail on the charges.