Benton City Mom Pleads Not Guilty to Manslaughter Charges - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton City Mom Pleads Not Guilty to Manslaughter Charges

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - A woman from Benton City charged with manslaughter in the drowning of her 1-year-old daughter in a bathtub pleaded not guilty Thursday in Benton County Superior Court.

39-year-old Wendi Finkbeiner-Setzer will remain free as the case is prosecuted.

She is accused of leaving the girl and her 2-year-old sister alone in the bathtub last November while she worked on a computer in another room.


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A woman from Benton City is facing manslaughter charges after her one year old daughter drowned in a bathtub.

Benton County Sheriff's Deputies say on the night of November 5th, 39-year-old Wendi Finkbeiner-Setzer put her 1-year-old and 2-year-old daughters into a bath, and left them to work on the computer.

"She went to turn on the computer. I don't know if she was there for five minutes or she was there for an hour but I understand that the son came in about five minutes afterwards and checked on the babies so it was within that time," said Deputy Joe Lusignan with the Benton County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies say Finkbeiner's teenage son went to check on the girls within five minutes after she left them, and found 1-year-old Piper Finkbeiner face down in the water, not breathing.

Paramedics brought Piper to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, and then airlifted her to Seattle Children's Hospital where doctors declared her brain dead. Doctors took the girl off life support November 12th.

The Benton County Prosecutor is charging the mother, Finkbeiner-Setzer with second degree Manslaughter, saying she was negligent in failing to supervise her children. "She's already going through the loss of a child and unfortunately, some of her actions even though, have been punished in one way, are actions that are against the law. We have to answer for that as well," said Lusignan.

Finkbeiner is to appear before a judge on those charges January 17th.

Annie Goodwin, the injury prevention and WIC Program Supervisor at the Benton Franklin Health District says... unfortunately, these kinds of preventable accidents are all too common, especially since babies can drown in just two inches of water. "they're top heavy they have big heads. and its real difficult for them, once they're in the water to turn over," said Goodwin.

Deputies say in this case,. Finkbeiner told them she left the kids in about 10-12 inches of water but the two year old may have turned on the faucet. "It would appear that the water had overflowed and got the surrounding carpeting and flooring wet," said Lusignan.

Goodwin says there are free classes about child safety new parents could take, sponsored by United Way. The next "Our Babies Can't Wait" course is January 16th. For more information and to sign up call 509-987-BABY (2229) or email jnyefelt@readingfoundation.org

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