Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas deputies arrest Largo father of 1-year-old who died in bathtub

LARGO — The water had risen to the edge of the tub, over the rim and onto the floor before Alan Morris remembered to check on his 13-month-old.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri recounted Thursday how Morris went from the bedroom to the bathroom across the hallway of the home near Largo.

When he got there, baby Liam was floating on his back, water from the faucet pouring onto his face. He was pronounced dead that evening.

Deputies would serve a search warrant weeks later to find out how long it takes to fill the tub: depending on the nozzle setting, eight to 23 minutes.

"That's beyond careless," Gaultieri said during a news conference. "That's criminal."

Deputies on Thursday arrested Morris, 34, on an aggravated manslaughter charge for his role in the Sept. 28 incident. He is being held without bail at the Pinellas County Jail.

The child's mother, 34-year-old Madelynne Barenbrugge, doesn't face charges, as there was no indication she knew the child was in danger, Gaultieri said.

The evening started normally. Morris returned home about 7 p.m. from his construction job. The family ate dinner together.

The parents each took a shower in the home's one bathroom. Then Morris put Liam in the tub, turned on the water and plugged the drain, the sheriff said.

Morris went across into the bedroom, where Barenbrugge had gone after she got out of the shower. The two gave conflicting statements about what happened next, but the gist was that they were talking, Gualtieri said.

The infant had taken his first steps just the night before, the sheriff said, and didn't have the strength to stabilize himself in the tub. By the time Morris heard the water overflowing, it was too late.

The father was "extremely remorseful," Gualtieri said. But later the parents refused to meet for interviews with detectives.

The night of the incident, deputies also found marijuana in the house, along with methadone and Suboxone, medication used to treat opiate addiction. Neither parent had prescriptions. They would not consent to drug tests, the sheriff said.

Court records show several petitions for protection and domestic violence incidents between the couple. Gualtieri said one of those incidents was in December 2016, when Liam was living with them.

Liam's case is reminiscent of a father who left his toddler in a hot truck last year. Troy Whitaker, a Hillsborough firefighter, faced the same charge — aggravated manslaughter — in the death of his young son, Lawson.

The state Attorney's Office dropped the charge, saying the father didn't show "intentional disregard."

Gualtieri, agreeing the case was similar, said he made his decision independently of what he thinks prosecutors will do.

"I . . . feel extremely strongly about it that our obligation is to the kid, our obligation is to that dead baby and to make sure someone is a voice for that child," he said.

Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or kvarn@tampabay.com. Follow @kathrynvarn.

Pinellas deputies arrest Largo father of 1-year-old who died in bathtub 10/12/17 [Last modified: Thursday, October 12, 2017 8:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena

    Blogs

    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.