ROCK SPRINGS – The first-degree murder case against Amanda and Jacob Triplett will move to district court after a preliminary hearing in the Third Judicial Circuit Court in Rock Springs.
Amanda appeared in court on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing. Triplett’s attorney did not contest the evidence presented and Judge Craig Jones moved the case on to District Court. Jacob Triplett was bound over earlier after he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Both have been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and two more child abuse charges.
If convicted, the couple could face the death penalty or life in jail without the possibility of parole. For the aggravated child abuse, each face 25 years in jail and then each child abuse charge carries a maximum of 5 years in jail. Judge Jones explained to the couple individually, if convicted, they could face death or life in jail plus 35 years. There are also $40,000 in fines that the couple could also be ordered to pay.
According to the court affidavit presented to the court by Rock Springs Police Officer Paul Schoenfeld, it states RSPD Officer Loredo was dispatched to 883 Moccasin Lane on Sept 15 with medical personnel in reference to an infant female child who was not breathing.
It was noted in the report, first responders reported the child’s temperature was 75.2 degrees fahrenheit.
Loredo reported he learned Amanda and Jacob Triplett were the infant’s parents and the father, Jacob Triplett, had just returned to the residence from National Guard Training.
Upon his arrival, the document states Jacob put the twins on “tummy time” and then fed his sons. The document alleges Jacob showered the boys and checked on the twins and they appeared to be ok.
The 4-month-old was transported to the emergency room at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County and was found to be malnourished and dehydrated. The child was taken into protective custody by Loredo and the Department of Family Services and was transported to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City by air transport.
On Sept. 16, Detectives Fisher and Kauchich of the Green River Police Department responded to an address in Green River and conducted welfare checks on the three other children from the Triplett home. It was noted the twins were born approximately seven weeks premature at the University of Utah and discharged approximately two and a half weeks after birth to their parents.
Upon visual inspection of the other young twin, Detectives allegedly found her to be in a malnourished state and an ambulance was immediately called and the other twin was transported to the emergency room at MHSC and was later transported to Primary Children’s Hospital. All four children were taken into protective custody.
Detective Schoenfeld received notification of the condition and that medical personnel in Utah determined the 4-month-old to be brain dead and they were going to discontinue life support.
RSPD Detectives Schoenfeld and Sgt. Lorimer traveled to Salt Lake City to speak with the Tripletts.
According to documents, Amanda allegedly informed investigators she awoke from a nap and observed the babies breathing to be abnormal. She said she woke up Jacob who began rescue breathing.
Amanda allegedly told investigators of the premature births and said she attempted to call her mother for a ride to the hospital but was unable to contact her.
Also during the interview, Amanda Triplett said she was given a specific brand of formula and feeding instructions to feed the infants upon their release. Without getting a doctor’s recommendation, Amanda said she discontinued the recommended formula and began to feed the infants a cheaper brand of formula. She said she used the “propping” method to feed the infants using blankets packed around the infants faces to prop the bottle up. Amanda said she did not supervise the infants during feedings and would leave them to feed so she could care for her other two children.
When asked how Amanda prepared the formula, she gave an estimate of how much formula she would use to a quantity of water. The estimate given was allegedly not in accordance to the formula instructions and was a diluted mixture according to the RSPD report.
Also according to the report, Amanda Triplett said Jacob Triplett rarely participated in the feeding and burping of the infants because “he didn’t know his own strength and was afraid he would hurt the babies.”
She also allegedly told officers she had not taken the infants to any doctor visit follow up appointments because she did not have a car to get them there and her family and friends were always busy. She also alleged that Jacob Triplett drank a pint of whiskey on most nights.
After the interview, the decision was made to discontinue life support and Jacob Triplett was not available for an interview.
According to court documents, Schoenfeld reviewed the medical report and spoke to physicians handling the case. They said chest x-rays showed healing rib fractures of the right sixth, seventh and eighth ribs. On Sept. 17, Schoenfeld talked to the doctor by phone and inquired about the medical report.
The doctor said it was her opinion that severe malnutrition and dehydration caused her cardiac arrest. During an exam of the other twin on Sept. 17, she was found to have two broken posterior ribs, one on each side of her body. The doctor reported the other twin’s lab test was normal and said initially she believed that fractures were due to her severe malnutrition but now, combined with the other twins fractured ribs, she believed them to be caused by abusive handling. The doctor alleged the fractured ribs on the infants bodies is indicative of a squeezing mechanism as if they were picked up by their ribs and squeezed.
The doctor also said the parents would have been advised to have the infants seen within a week following their return home, and also advised the bottle propping method of feeding is not recommended and is discouraged and was likely a contributor to the infants malnourishment.
A search warrant was signed by Judge Jones and executed at the residence on Moccasin Lane. The warrant noted the infants room was bare and contained a playpen in the center of the room and there were no sheets and one blanket inside. This room had a television on a stand. The mattress in the playpen had two distinct indentations were the infants presumably slept. There was a white residue on the mattress around the indentations.
The warrant also stated the older children’s room was found to be bare and contained two mattresses on the floor that had no sheets, one blanket and “filthy pillows.”
At approximately 11:30 p.m. that night, Sgt. Lorimer received notification that the young child had died and on Sept. 18, Lorimer returned to Salt Lake to attend the autopsy. The autopsy reported the babies body had minor markings that were indicative of abuse. The baby also had a firm stool in her bowel which was indicative of dehydration. Doctors were told by Amanda that she did not feed the infants the recommended formula and fed the infants a formula which contained only 20 calories per oz of formula. The recommended formula had 24 calories per ounce. By diluting the formula, it was estimated it would have only contained approximately 13 calories per ounce.
The healing injuries were old and estimated to be between two and six weeks old meaning the injuries were not caused by the pregnancy or during childbirth.
The other two children were then taken to Primary Children’s Hospital on Sept. 18 for an evaluation. Reports state, in one son, it is strongly suggestive of failure to thrive as a result of nutritional and/or psychosocial issues. Despite an average height and weigh at birth, the one son’s size averaged the size of a nine-month old and not 21 months of age. A skeletal survey demonstrated multiple growth arrest lines suggesting repeated episodes of severe illness or malnutrition.
The medical report also said there were areas of injury to the top of his head which was also noted on his brother’s exam. His brother reported that this injury was due to his father beating or tapping him. The reported stated despite his young age, the son was at risk for emotional and behavioral health problems based on presumed history of extreme neglect and/or abuse.
The brother’s medical report was very similar including the alleged injuries to the top of his head.