UPDATE (Sept. 30, 2019) — Jessica Skeens was sentenced to 41 years.
UPDATE (Aug. 16, 2019) — Jessica Skeens was found guilty of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, operating a vehicle with a controlled substance, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, neglect of a dependent, and possession of marijuana.
MUNCIE, Ind. — From behind bars in the Delaware County Jail, the mother of a 6-year-old girl killed in a crash is telling the story about what happened.
On Sunday, May 28, a violent car crash killed Taelyn Woodson. Police said she was thrown from the van and wasn’t wearing a proper safety restraint. Her mother, Jessica Skeens, and Skeens’ boyfriend, Nathaniel Jordan, are facing charges for their involvement in the crash.
Skeens is speaking only to CBS4’s Shannon Houser about what happened in the moments that led to the crash.
“Nathan was supposed to take the kids to the children’s museum,” Skeens said.
The day was supposed to be filled with fun and laughter for Skeens, her four children and Jordan. Then, Skeens said, the fighting began. She said Jordan told her not to come to the museum and they continued fighting until the trip was canceled.
Skeens admitted she started drinking.
“I was drinking because I do that when I’m stressed out, which is obviously something I’m never going to do again,” she said. “I had a water bottle full of alcohol in the car.”
The pair and the four kids went for a ride to Taelyn’s father’s home, according to Skeens. She said they picked up a kitten, because Taelyn wanted it. Skeens said that made Jordan angry. Then, the couple got into a fight about who should be driving.
“The last thing I remember is him. He either hit me or pulled my arm, I’m not entirely sure, and I said ‘Nathan I’m trying to drive,’ and then he punched me in the face,” Skeens said.
After that, she said she didn’t remember much. Investigators said the van she was driving flipped. She was ejected and Taelyn was partially ejected. The 6-year-old girl was pronounced dead on the scene.
“The next thing I remember is standing over Taelyn and she was covered in blood,” the mother recalls.
She admitted she was drinking and driving. Indiana State Police investigators said her BAC was over the legal limit. Skeens said she shouldn’t have been behind the wheel.
“I have to accept that. I will have to live with that because I made that choice,” she said.
When asked if she felt responsible for Taelyn’s death, she said “No. No. I think that drinking was a factor, but even if I had been sober, I couldn’t have stopped that van from rolling over. I couldn’t have stopped him,” she said.
Investigators said Taelyn and another young child in the backseat weren’t in booster seats. Skeens said she thought they were old enough to wear seatbelts. She said the children used to have booster seats, but they were broken. She admitted she never bought new ones and should have saved the money to purchase some.
After the crash, Skeens was taken to the hospital for a broken arm. She was then arrested and brought to jail a few days later. She’s preliminary charged with neglect of a dependent and driving while drunk causing death. The Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office said they would announce formal charging decisions next week.
Nathaniel Jordan was formally charged on Thursday. He’s charged with the following:
- Neglect of a dependent resulting in death
- Battery resulting in serious bodily injury
- 3 counts of neglect of a dependent
- Operating a vehicle while drunk endangering a passenger less than 18 years of age
- Driving while suspended
- Possession of marijuana
If convicted, Jordan could spend more than 50 years behind bars.