The parents of a Pointe Coupee Parish toddler were indicted Monday on negligent homicide in her death, with prosecutors claiming the adults were sleeping after having smoked marijuana when the 3-year-old wandered off and drowned in a pool.
Amaya Guilbeaux, 3, died on Nov. 29.
The little girl walked 200 yards from the Fordoche home where she was staying to the pool where she drowned, according to police reports. Authorities say her parents, April Feast, 26, and Scottie Guilbeaux, 28, should have been keeping better watch over the child.
Assistant District Attorney Chad Aguillard said the grand jury heard from five witnesses over roughly four hours before returning on Monday with their indictment for negligent homicide.
Authorities initially arrested Guilbeaux and Feast on a count each of second-degree murder, but the grand jury was presented with lesser charging options including negligent homicide and manslaughter.
If convicted of negligent homicide, the parents would face up to five years in prison. A manslaughter conviction would have resulted in a sentence of up to 40 years; the punishment for second-degree murder is mandatory life in prison.
The parents told investigators with the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office they assumed Amaya was with Feast's sister that afternoon, but the sister said she thought the child was with the parents.
Amaya was missing three hours before authorities were called.
In a pretty dress and with her favorite toy doll tucked under her arm, Amaya Guilbeaux was buried Saturday, two days after what would’ve been …
The pair also face counts of illegal use of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of persons under 17 years of age, and possession of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids. Sheriff’s deputies noted that when they entered the bedroom where Guilbeaux and Feast had been sleeping, they smelled a marijuana odor and found several smoked “blunts.”
Aguillard said proving a negligent homicide case can be difficult because it involves a high standard of criminal negligence, but he believes the lack of supervision coupled with the marijuana accusation carries weight.
"It's another factor of their gross negligence," he said. "Not only did they fail to properly supervise their child but they did so while under the influence of controlled dangerous substances which further indicates the actions they took were a gross deviation of their standard of care."
The parents' attorney, Dedrick Moore, could not be reached for comment late Monday.
Guilbeaux and Feast were transported to attend the girl’s funeral in December, but have remained in custody in Pointe Coupee Parish Jail since their arrest, according to jail records.
Amaya’s great-grandmother, Joyce Guilbeaux, told The Advocate in December that Amaya had lived with her since she was born. She said Scottie Guilbeaux, who is her son, and Feast had not been together romantically for some time, but had been loving parents to Amaya, providing the child everything she needed despite living elsewhere.
Joyce Guilbeaux said Amaya had been staying at the Fordoche home to spend time with her parents around Thanksgiving. Neighbors told investigating deputies that other children in the home are often left unsupervised, and there have been times when they’ve called adults in the home to come and monitor the children, according to the arrest reports.
The suspects will face arraignment at a later date and their cases will continue together, said Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton.