CLEARFIELD – A Grampian woman charged in connection with the death of her infant daughter pleaded guilty Thursday in Clearfield County Court.
Alexa L. Kephart, 23, agreed to plead guilty to felony endangering the welfare of children and misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter instead of beginning her three-day jury trial.
It was an open plea of guilt, meaning there’s no negotiated sentence and leaving terms of sentencing up to the court pursuant to sentencing guidelines.
Upon acceptance of the plea, Judge Paul Cherry cancelled the trial and ordered for a presentencing investigation by the Probation Department.
The agreement prohibits Kephart from being able to withdraw her plea at a later time, and she’ll be scheduled for sentencing within 60 days.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Kephart and her boyfriend, Dakota Canfield, were on a combination of drugs when their 39-day-old daughter died July 1, 2020.
That night, the baby and her 22-month-old brother had gone to sleep with the couple in their full-size bed at their Penn Township residence in the 300-block of Stronach Road.
They all regularly slept in the same bed in the master bedroom, and on June 30, 2020, the infant was reportedly put in bed at around 10 p.m.
Sometime around 4:30 a.m. or 5 a.m. July 1, 2020, Kephart woke up to feed the baby and change her diaper. Then, they went back to sleep.
When the couple woke up around 10:14 a.m., the baby was pressed against Kephart. She was facing her mother and also covered with a blanket.
The baby was reportedly unconscious and blue; life-saving efforts were unsuccessful. The baby was pronounced dead at the Penn Highlands DuBois Hospital at 11 a.m.
During the death investigation, police discovered the couple had an active case with Clearfield County Children, Youth and Family Service.
CYFS records indicated that when Kephart gave birth to her daughter, she had both methamphetamines and amphetamines in her system. She was positive for the same drugs after that, as well.
Both Kephart and Canfield were drug tested July 1, 2020 and Kephart tested positive for meth, amphetamines, marijuana and ecstasy.
Canfield was positive for the same drug combination and alcohol. The couple was tested again July 28, 2020 and was positive for meth and marijuana.
In interviews with state police investigators, both Kephart and Canfield admitted to using drugs before and after their baby daughter was born.
An autopsy determined the baby died from “overlay” and that her manner of death was accidental, according to the affidavit of probable cause.