Video Gaming Session Leads to Murder Charges for Father After Infant 8-Month-Old Daughter’s Bathtub Death

PHOTO: BURKBURNETT POLICE DEPT

In a tragic incident in Burkburnett, Texas, a young father has been accused of neglecting his infant daughter leading to her fatal drowning in a bathtub while he was preoccupied with video games. Justin Kidwell, aged 20, has been taken into custody by local law enforcement following the unfortunate event that occurred in May 2023, as stated by the Burkburnett Public Safety Department.

The distressing situation came to light on May 14, 2023, when police were summoned to a residence in Burkburnett regarding an “unresponsive infant.” Upon arrival, they discovered the lifeless body of an 8-month-old girl in the bathtub, a situation described as “tragically deceased” in the official statement from the authorities.

The conclusion of an extensive investigation spanning nearly a year, involving the Burkburnett police and the Texas Rangers, revealed that the young girl’s death resulted from being left alone in a bathtub with the water running. The investigation further unveiled that Kidwell was allegedly deeply immersed in playing video games, neglecting the supervision of his child during this critical time.

At the time of the incident, Kidwell was reportedly the sole adult present in the home. According to an arrest affidavit reported by KAUZ, Kidwell confessed to placing his daughter in the bathtub with the water on, only to step away momentarily to retrieve his headphones and engage with a friend on Discord, a popular gaming communication platform. Kidwell estimated the duration of his absence to be between 30 seconds to a few minutes, during which the water overflowed, causing flooding in the bathroom and nearby areas.

The situation escalated to a point of emergency when, upon discovering his daughter face down in the water, Kidwell’s friend on Discord promptly contacted 911 for immediate assistance. This is not Kidwell’s first encounter with the law regarding child safety. In 2022, he faced legal action and pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges, which involved exposing a minor to a controlled substance. Currently, Kidwell is detained with a bond set at $500,000, facing a murder charge in connection to his daughter’s death.

This heartbreaking case underscores the paramount importance of vigilant supervision of young children, especially around water, and the dire consequences of distraction by digital entertainment. The community and authorities are now left to grapple with the aftermath of this preventable tragedy.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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