A jury found a Weare man guilty of negligent homicide for causing the death of his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter in 2019.
Christian Cummings, 24, was on trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court last week on involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and reckless conduct. Cummings faces up to 30 years in prison.
At the time of her death in February 2019, Kamryn Cummings, aged one and a half, was living in squalid conditions in a crowded house on Colby Road, Weare. Hundreds of lice were found on her lifeless body.
According to the indictment, the toddler died of dehydration, an electrolyte imbalance, and/or urosepsis, a blood infection that began with an untreated UTI, all of which prosecutors say were the result of severe neglect.
However, defense attorney Ted Lothstein argued that her cause of death was due to a sudden unexplained death in childhood. But before her death, the toddler was coughing, vomiting and having trouble breathing.
The closing arguments relied heavily on the testimonies of two former New Hampshire coroners, Drs. Christine James and Dr. Thomas Andrews, who performed the child’s autopsy.
Lothstein argued that the coroners’ findings were inconsistent: James testified that the child’s cause of death was likely urosepsis, while Andrews testified that the findings were speculative. However, they agreed that diagnosing sepsis in a deceased patient is difficult.
Prosecutors argued that a factor contributing to the infant’s death was anemia caused by thousands of lice feeding on her blood, a discovery James supported.
Lothstein argued that Cummings was a product of his environment and was not intentionally neglecting his child. Rather, Cummings treated her as he was treated and raised her in the home he grew up in. According to all reports, the house was in a desolate condition.
“It’s a horrible house and it’s horrible to imagine children, adults and animals living in this house, but can you blame Christian?” Lothstein asked the jury. “He grew up in this house, that was his normality, which is very sad.”
Instead, he gave the toddlers’ pre-existing medical conditions, the pediatricians who had given her a clean bill of health a month before her death, and the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) who had failed to put her in a safe place bring home the same blame .
Prosecutor Mark Ryder said family members warned Cummings about his daughter’s condition but their concerns were ignored. He said the abhorrent conditions at the home contributed to the infant’s illness and rapid deterioration.
“This isn’t a baby that can’t move. This is a 17-month-old who will grab anything and put it in her mouth,” Ryder said. “There were Lego bricks covered in food, there was food left out, there were open and unrefrigerated milk jugs, there were cigarette butts and ashes and vomit on her basin.”
His wife, Mikayla Chochran, is due to appear in court next year on the same charges.