After Toddler’s Death, Petition To Increase Penalty For Criminal Negligent Homicide Gains Support

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Concerned friends are asking state lawmakers to take action in the case against Kristopher and Joy Lynn Speigner.

Both were charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide in the death of 18-month-old McKenzie Speigner, who died in 2012 after ingesting dishwashing liquid. Prosecutors say both Kristopher and Joy Lynn Speigner were too intoxicated at the time to seek medical help for the child.

Criminally Negligent Homicide is considered a misdemeanor in Alabama, with a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison. It is a penalty many believe is far from justice.

“It’s kind of repulsive that the life of a child is only worth up to a year in jail,” said Shellie Parrish, a friend of McKenzie’s biological mother, who passed away in a car wreck.

Parrish filed the petition on Friday morning. As of 10 p.m. Friday, it had gained nearly 1,000 signatures.

“Something needs to be done. Not just for McKenzie but for other children out there,” said Parrish. “I would like to see the laws changed for the sake of children. I understand accidents happen but the mere fact they were too intoxicated to seek help is beyond me.”

The petition was brought to the attention of state Representative Mike Ball. He agreed, a case like this may warrant a greater penalty.

“I was shocked; it’s always shocking when a precious child loses their life,” said Ball. “There’s a degree of negligence that could be so bad it should rise to the level of a felony.”

Still it would be a long road before anything could be done. Ball would first have to speak with district attorneys, prosecutors, and his colleagues in Montgomery to build support for the legislation.

“We don’t even have a bill yet. We have to figure out what an appropriate remedy is first.”

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