Parents Accused Of Killing Son After “Teaching Him a Lesson” With Alcohol

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By Nigel Boys

Fearing he would turn out to be an alcoholic like his biological father, Paulette Richardson and her husband Joseph allowed their 16-year-old son, Kendal Ball, to get so drunk that he died in bed, according to the New York Daily News.

The Uinta, Wyoming mother and stepfather were charged last week with the involuntary manslaughter of her son after he was found dead at their home on July 7. A toxicology report by Uinta County Coroner Greg Crandall showed Ball’s blood-alcohol level was .587, about seven times the legal limit for drivers in the state, according to the sheriff’s office.

Although the Richardson’s intentions had been to “teach him a lesson” about the dangers of alcohol by letting him get sick, the old fashioned remedy to stop children drinking backfired when Ball died of alcohol poisoning in the middle of the night.

Ball had reportedly been asking his parents to allow him to drink for the last three years, according to Joseph Richardson. He added that he “was trying to go along with what he had been told and teach a lesson about alcohol and get him sick.”

Ball allegedly began drinking around 8:30 p.m. on July 6 with his stepfather and a teenage friend, Joseph Kunkle. They finished drinking around 2 hours later when Ball was put to bed. Paulette Richardson did not drink with the three males but told police that her son had “a few shots of Fireball and a few shots of Jack Daniel’s, according to the Uinta County Herald.

An autopsy performed by Dr. Tom Bennett, listed the probable cause of death as “complications of acute alcohol poisoning.”

Ball appeared to be fine and allegedly gave his mother the thumbs up showing her that he felt okay when she went to check on him around 11 p.m. However, when his stepfather went into his bedroom later to see how he was around 3:45 a.m., he found him unresponsive.

According to the affidavit, paramedics found Ball with dark blue skin and when a Uinta County Sheriff’s deputy touched his wrist to check for a pulse, it was cool to the touch. It continues that there was “a large amount of dark, thick fluid pooled on the floor from his mouth” and “there were multiple places that looked like vomit on the floor.”

“I am not here to make parenting decisions for people,” Uinta County Attorney Loretta Gerrard said. “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.”

If convicted, Joseph and Paulette Richardson each face up to 20 years in prison. Gerrard said her office is still undecided about whether or not to charge Kunkle with a crime, but since he had no legal obligation to care for Ball, it was doubtful if he would be prosecuted.

“People need to realize that there are natural consequences to their decisions,” Gerrard continued. “Sometimes a person’s actions have tragic results and there are often criminal consequences for those poor decisions.”

The Richardson’s were charged on September 8 and are due to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Friday, September 18. They remain in the county jail at this time, Sheriff Doug Matthews said on Tuesday.

“It’s a tragedy, there’s both sides of the issue,” Matthews said. “The majority of the people in the community are concerned. They’re wanting to know more.”

Keith Hotle of Wyoming’s Prevention Management said that Ball’s death emphasized the need for more education concerning alcohol abuse and minors.

“This incident is a terrible tragedy,” Hotle said. “I think it highlights the work that we do in communities across Wyoming, including trying to educate people about the dangers of underage drinking.”

“Definitely a tragedy like this affects all of us and especially all of us who are parents. It makes us think about how we address these things with our kids,” Hotle continued. “Situations like this remind us that alcohol poisoning is a real danger.”

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