Teen dies after woman disconnects ventilator for 10 hours, South Carolina cops say

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A 37-year-old woman in South Carolina has been charged in connection with the death of her child last summer.

Sharma Ladile Harris was arrested Thursday on charges of voluntary manslaughter, the S.C. Department of Law Enforcement said in a news release. Harris lives in Sumter County, just east of Columbia.

According to SLED, she “is accused of disconnecting a medical ventilator that was deemed necessary to assist with (a minor child’s) breathing functions.”

A warrant for her arrest states Harris and her 13-year-old were in Lynchburg, South Carolina, on June 13, 2020, when she reportedly disconnected the child’s ventilator at 10:58 a.m. The ventilator remained disconnected until 9:35 p.m., investigators said.

“Based on investigation, medical records and expert medical opinion, the affiant believes probably cause exists to establish the defendant did commit the offense of voluntary manslaughter,” the arrest warrant states.

Involuntary manslaughter implies less culpability than murder, according to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. In South Carolina, it is “the unlawful killing of a person in the sudden heat of passion upon sufficient legal provocation,” the criminal defense attorneys at Williams & Walsh in Charleston said.

Harris was booked Thursday at the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center. If convicted, she faces between two and 30 years in prison.

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