ANDERSON, Ind. -- An Anderson mother no longer faces a murder charge for the death of her newborn. However, prosecutors have filed feticide, involuntary manslaughter and possession of methamphetamine charges against Kellie Leever-Driskel, 34.
Investigators said drugs contributed to the baby's death after he did not survive birth, and that Leever-Driskel admitted she took drugs while knowing she was pregnant.
"All I can think of is she knew better, she knew better. I mean she's had five kids. This is her fifth," said Karisha Leever, Leever-Driskel's half sister. "I mean how could you do this? It's just terrible."
Leever said she is shocked when she thinks about the accusations.
"It's taking a big toll on my family," she said.
According to court documents, a man called 911 on Dec. 23, 2017, and reported Leever-Driskel had delivered a baby. She was taken to a local hospital; the baby died during childbirth. The next day, an autopsy was performed and the cause of death was reported as separation of the placenta from the uterine lining. The doctor's report said contributing factors to the death were acute methamphetamine, fentanyl, clonazepam and diphenhydramine intoxication. A lab report also showed seven positive drug findings.
Police said they found Leever-Driskel at a motel last week, brought her in for questioning and arrested her on a preliminary charge of murder.
"We asked for an extension to evaluate the case with specific telephone conversations with the pathologist. I reached a conclusion that was unable to prove a knowing or intentional murder in that there are a number of ways that this child died with the placenta, with the injury to the placenta," Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said. "But the number one reason, medical reason, would be methamphetamine. That would be the number one reason for the injury to her body that caused the death of this child, but it's not the only reason."
According to court documents, Leever-Driskel told police she was asleep on the couch. When she woke up "she noticed she had birthed a baby boy." Investigators said she admitted she knew she was pregnant about a month before giving birth but continued to use different drugs, including meth. When a detective showed her the reports from the autopsy and toxicology report, and the different drugs found in the baby's blood, court documents stated, "Kelli not only admitted that she used the illegal drugs, but mentioned a few others stating that she was surprised that they did not show up in the baby's system."
"It's incredibly sad. I guess it shouldn't be shocking, but I still am" Cummings said. "If you look at the number of babies in our community that are born either addicted to drugs or under the influence of heroin and meth and fentanyl and crimes like that, it's 22 to 25 percent in this community, a shocking number, an absolute shocking number."
Karisha Leever says the focus is now on Leever-Driskel's four other children, including a 1-year-old she said was found in a motel room.
"When she got arrested at Motel 6, she got arrested and my nephew was in a motel room and had been in the motel room for seven hours until the cleaning lady had found him the next morning," Leever said.
Anderson police said they're investigating whether or not another child of Leever-Driskel's was left unattended at the motel where she was picked up for questioning because they have since discovered the first initial information they received from Leever-Driskel is inaccurate.
"Just please don't do drugs while you're pregnant and take responsibility for your own," Leever said.
The prosecutor said Leever-Driskel could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.