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Carthage woman charged with manslaughter in choking death of infant niece

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CARTHAGE — Amber K. Simpson, 25, has admitted that she choked her 6-month-old niece “out of frustration from lack of sleep caused by the fussy baby,” according to state police.

Ms. Simpson, of 232 N. School St., was charged Wednesday night by state police with second-degree manslaughter in the death Tuesday of Rachel L. Wood-Main.

The Jefferson County medical examiner, Dr. Samuel A. Livingstone, who conducted an autopsy Wednesday, determined that the infant had suffered fractures in the neck and spine, according to Maj. Rodney W. Campbell, commander of the Oneida state police troop. Ms. Simpson inflicted those injuries by using her hand to choke the baby, Maj. Campbell said at a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Carthage Municipal Building.

The incident occurred about 6 a.m. Tuesday, police said, and 15 hours passed before an ambulance was called. Ms. Simpson’s boyfriend, Joseph Reape, who lives with her in the North School Street apartment and was home with the infant and his own two children, a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son, called 911 when he became concerned that the infant was unresponsive, according to police. Ms. Simpson was not home at the time.

The infant apparently died before police and an ambulance were dispatched at 8:59 p.m. Tuesday. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was conducted in the apartment, initially by Mr. Reape, following a dispatcher’s instructions, and then by ambulance personnel, but the baby was pronounced dead at Carthage Area Hospital at 9:46 p.m., according to police.

Ms. Simpson, who also was charged with second-degree assault, is being held in the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building, Watertown, with bail set at $30,000 by Carthage Village Justice S. Lucille Shettleton. A preliminary hearing tentatively is scheduled for Monday in Village Court.

Police listed the time of arrest as 7:34 p.m. Wednesday, and Ms. Simpson was placed in jail shortly before 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

Maj. Campbell said Ms. Simpson told police that she grew frustrated with the infant’s fussing prior to the assault. He said there was no indication, however, that Ms. Simpson was aware of the extent of the injuries to her niece.

Ms. Simpson’s landlady, Stacy Hadley, told the Times on Wednesday that Ms. Simpson had custody of Rachel.

Rachel was born May 21 at Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, to Christine and Robert Wood-Main. Mrs. Wood-Main posted on her Facebook page Wednesday, “My baby girl died yesterday at 8:00 pm you will be missed Rachel love mommy and daddy RIP baby girl.”

In a posting on Jan. 20, she wrote, in part, “... they said I can’t have my baby in my custudy because of metal health problams but I talked with my consoler and she said they legaly have to give me a chance to be a mother they just can’t take the baby from me when I have her in may they have to give me a chance to be a mother (sic).”

Ms. Simpson, an unemployed laborer and a native of Indiana, according to jail records, had shared her apartment with Mr. Reape since September 2009, according to Mrs. Hadley.

State police said they were assisted in the investigation by Carthage police, the Jefferson County district attorney’s office and the child protective services unit of the county Department of Social Services.

Johnson Newspapers writer Christina Scanlon contributed to this report.

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