Indiana mom who smothered infant while high on drugs walks free after judge says she's 'not innocent'

The judge said she was "not innocent," but also "not guilty" of the crimes the state accused her of committing.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
A mother in Indianapolis, Indiana has been allowed to walk free despite admitting that she had smothered her 2-month-old daughter to death while high on meth in 2022.

Judge Mark Stoner argued that the charges brought against 32-year-old Dalia Lacey by prosecutors were inappropriate, and that because they had failed to prove that she acted with intent, he had no choice but to "reluctantly" let her go. 

According to the WTHR, while speaking with investigators, Lacey tearfully admitted to smothering the infant with a pillow when she wouldn't stop crying and calling 911 to report the death immediately afterwards. She was charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death.

Lacey's other daughter, who is now 5 years old, testified against her mother in court, explaining that she her smother the baby with a pillow that day.

"You're not innocent, but you're not guilty of what the state has charged you with," Stoner said while handing down his verdict, per the Daily Mail, noting that he would have found her liable for involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide. "This is a case that happens when you're a bad parent.

He added that "not everything that's a mistake or everything that is wrong is criminal," but stressed that, "there are some things you can never do. You can never have sole possession of your children and go out and use drugs."

"Something has to be done with criminal intent, criminal responsibility, and that's what the defendant is charged with," he explained. "When the state chooses to charge an individual, they must prove they did something with criminal intent. Poor parenting, by definition, is not criminal."

He then turned his attention to Marion County Prosecutor's Office, placing the blame for Lacey's release at their feet.

"The prosecutor has a screening division to make decisions as to what should be charged," he said, suggesting that the office should have done a better job selecting.

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