11-month-old girl drowns in bath while her father fell asleep watching TV

A father, who allegedly had a history of  abuse, has been charged with manslaughter after his toddler daughter drowned in  the bathtub while he slept in their Minneapolis apartment.

Joe Martin, 28, put his 11-month-old daughter  Maddie and her four-year-old sister, Allie, in the tub on October 31, 2011 and  he then left the room to take a nap on the couch in their living room.

Sometime later, the sleeping father awoke to  the chilling sounds of his four-year-old daughter – crying out that her little  sister wasn’t moving.

According to police, Allie said the baby was  crying to get out of the tub and slipped as she tried to escape.

The father told police that  after he put his girls in the bath, he went to the living room to watch TV and use his cellphone, but he claimed he could still see  inside the bathroom.

He said he dozed off until  he heard Allie’s screams. When he ran into the bathroom, he found his youngest  daughter face down in the water, which was 8 to 9 inches deep.

Maddie was hospitalized for 11 days but died  after she was taken off life support.

‘It was determined she was brain  dead,’ the  child’s grandmother, Sherry Schumacher, told KSTV, adding that  they don’t know  how long Maddie had been submerged.

‘Maddie was my angel,’ the little girl’s  mother, Heather Martin, said. She was at work that fateful October day.

Though the incident was ruled an  accident,  Joe Martin is now being charged with  second-degree manslaughter and child neglect, in  light of  allegations by his wife that he had a history of  abuse.

‘I would try to escape so many times and to  get away from him,’ Heather Martin said about her husband.

Closure: Maddie’s family say they hope the legal case  will help them heal

‘There’s clearly no evidence to suggest [the  drowning] was intentional,’ according to Wade Kish, Anoka County Assistant  Attorney.

But Kish said Joe Martin took an ‘an  unreasonable risk’ in leaving two children in a bathtub with nine inches of  water and did not remain within an adequate distance to view both children in  the tub, even if he had been wide awake.

‘He left two children in a bathtub with nine  inches of water, and sat 24 feet away from the edge of the bathtub [in the  living room],’ Kish said.

‘The critical thing for us was that from that  distance of 24 feet he had a field of view into the bathroom of only about 12  inches. The tub itself was 49 inches wide so Mr. Martin could only see 12 inches  of it.’

Martin has not been arrested. He will make  his first court appearance next week.

If convicted, he could face up to five years  in prison.

The family of the deceased toddler hope to  find closure with the new legal case.

‘Justice will help us move on,’ said Maddie’s  grandfather, Tim Schumacher.

The baby’s aunt, Krista Schumacher, said the  family is still working through feelings of ‘sadness and the anger and the  resentment.’

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