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News / Northwest

Judge: Death of 14-month-old daughter punishment enough for ‘negligence’ from Spokane father

By Emma Epperly, The Spokesman-Review
Published: March 28, 2024, 8:04am

SPOKANE — A 29-year-old Spokane man pleaded guilty to criminal mistreatment Wednesday and was sentenced to credit for time served related to the “negligence” death of his 14-month-old daughter in 2021.

The deputy prosecutor in charge of the case and defense attorney for Ryan J. Beamis said that while he was a mentally ill and negligent parent at the time of his daughter’s death, manslaughter, with which he was originally charged, was unprovable in court.

Around 4 p.m. on July 3, 2021, the Spokane Fire Department responded to 3024 E. 30th Ave. after receiving an emergency call that the 1-year-old child, Scarlet, wasn’t breathing, according to a probable cause affidavit. Firefighters determined Scarlet was dead when they arrived.

Investigators said a dresser tipped over, crushing the girl. Her older brother was found uninjured in the room with her.

Court documents indicate the children were left alone by Beamis and his wife for about 16 hours, but Sharon Hedlund, deputy prosecutor, said it’s unclear when the dresser fell.

While there was clear negligence in leaving the children alone for so long, Hedlund said previously prosecutors in the special assault unit declined to charge Beamis and that she did not believe she could prove second-degree manslaughter in court.

Beamis’ then-wife was never charged, she noted, despite being home at the time.

Beamis’ attorney Benjamin Hartnett said while it’s clear the young parents were struggling with depression, poverty and a lack of supports, they loved their children.

Beamis went through a Child Protective Services investigation and complied with the requirements to regain custody of his older son. Hartnett said the child’s mother has not done the same.

“He has done everything that has been asked of him,” Hartnett said.

Hartnett and Hedlund called the situation a tragedy and recommended Beamis get credit for the two days he served in jail as the sentence for his misdemeanor.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michelle Szambelan said the case was a struggle for her.

“I am persuaded that you are essentially in a jail cell everyday of your life knowing Scarlet died on your watch,” Szambelan said.