URIE, Wyo., Sept. 18 (UPI) — A mother and stepfather have been arrested after their 16-year-old son died from alcohol poisoning when they tried to “teach him a lesson” about drinking, police said.
Now facing involuntary manslaughter charges, Paulette Richardson and her husband, Joseph, told police that their son Kendall Ball had talked for three years about wanting to drink, so they agreed to let him try it under supervision, intending to make him sick. Paulette Richardson told police the boy’s father is an alcoholic, and she didn’t want him to turn out that way.
After downing “a few shots of Fireball, and a few shots of Jack Daniel’s” with a friend and Joseph Richardson joining in at about 8:30 p.m. on July 6, Paulette Richardson said her son was “very intoxicated” and ready for bed by 10:30 p.m., according to a police affidavit in the case.
His mother told police she checked on him around 11 p.m. and he gave her a thumbs-up sign. When his stepfather says he checked on him at 3:45 a.m., Kendall was unresponsive, and he called an ambulance.
A sheriff’s deputy who responded said Kendall’s “lips and eyelids were dark blue,” his skin was cool to the touch, and there were pools of vomit around the room.
An autopsy later confirmed his blood-alcohol level was .587 percent — well above the legal limit to drive of .08 percent.
Kendall’s death has struck a nerve in the small community, with Sheriff Doug Matthews calling the incident a “tragedy.” A prosecutor said she hopes parents can draw a lesson about “wives tales.”
“I am not here to make parenting decisions for people,” Uinta County Attorney Loretta Gerrard told the Uinta County Herald. “What I hope people understand, however, is that some traditional parenting lore, wives tales or theories don’t apply in an age where we have refined products that accelerate the effect of chemicals on the human body.”
The couple face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, and prosecutors are considering charges against the friend who also took part in the drinking. The Richardsons next appear in court for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Friday.