Bellevue woman denies starving her baby daughter

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by KYLE MOORE / KING 5 News and KING5.com

KING5.com

Posted on January 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 1 at 1:06 PM

SEATTLE – A Bellevue couple is accused of starving their baby daughter and putting laxatives in her bottle in order to prevent her from getting fat.

Samuel Labberton, 24, and Brittainy Labberton, 21, are charged with third-degree criminal mistreatment.

Brittainy denies she starved her daughter.

"As a matter of fact my, daughter eats more than I do," Brittainy told KING 5 News. "If I had one drop of food left in my house, I would give it to my kids before I even thought about myself."

According to probable cause documents, the Labbertons' daughter, identified as A.L., was born in August 2008, weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces. Doctors had instructed the Labbertons to feed her regularly to keep her healthy.

A.L. was hospitalized less than two months later after she failed to gain sufficient weight, say investigators. The Labbertons allegedly told doctors that their daughter was fussy and threw up food.

"When you have a baby that is so sick and in pain that all she does is scream and cry and throw up her formula like the exorcist, I kid you not," said Brittainy.

But doctors say they saw no signs of that when the girl was in their care and she was described as "happy." Since then, A.L. has been in foster care, with the Labbertons given supervised visits.

According to papers from the prosecutor's office, Brittainy said "Oh My God she's fat" and "I have a fat baby" when A.L. was up to to 13 pounds, 7 ounces in December 2008. She allegedly indicated that her husband has a weight problem and did not want her girls to be fat.

Brittainy tells it differently.

"I was so concerned she was gaining the weight so fast. I didn't care that she was gaining the weight. That is fine. But too fast, it scared the crap out of me," said Brittainy.

In January 2009, the Labbertons had a supervised visit with A.L, after which, the foster parent indicated that A.L. was fussy and had diarrhea. Prosecutors say tests on the bottle indicated the formula was more likely a laxative. Since then, CPS says it is no longer allowing the Labbertons to make bottles for the child.

The Labbertons are allowed three visits per week with their children.

In interviews with police, Brittainy allegedly admitted to having postpartum depression with psychotic tendencies after A.L. was born and was prescribed medication to help control those thoughts. But, she says she stopped taking it after three days because of side effects, including being very tired. She says this, in part, prevented her from getting up to feed the baby.

The Labbertons both allegedly told police that Samuel did not help with caring for the baby because he worked a graveyard shift and needed to get his sleep.

Samuel also allegedly told a detective that  A.L. as "gained so much weight that now she is fat" and that she may not learn how to walk because of her weight.

The couple's older daughter has also been removed from the home. According to prosecutors, her foster parents say she was "ravenously hungry" and ate so fast that she choked on her food.

"I love my kids. I hate that people think I am a bad parent. I am young. I am not a perfect parent. Nobody in this world is a perfect parent," said Brittainy.

With a Bible in his hand, Samuel cut KING 5's interview with Brittainy short and declined to comment.

Court records say Samuel has a 2003 conviction for criminal trespass and was arrested last June for fourth-degree assault-domestic violence against Brittainy.

 

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