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.’