Jessica Bortle is charged with aggravated manslaughter after her 14-year-old daughter died in a Pensacola hospital while recovering from an infection. The 34-year-old Florida mother was taken into custody on Monday after an investigation indicated she may have caused her child’s death while she laid unconscious in a hospital bed. Her daughter’s cause of death was from sudden “massive injuries” to the ribs and liver, a medical examiner’s report revealed.
According to police, Bortle took her daughter, Jasmine Singletary, to Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital on July 8. The girl, who was described as special needs, was suffering from an unspecified infection. Police confirmed that Singletary had a neuromuscular disorder and that she was a patient who required special attention.
The severity of the infection was not revealed, however, on July 13, Jasmine Singletary lost consciousness and died. Hospital staff attempted life-saving measures to no avail. Police Chief Eric Randall stated that Jessica Bortle and Jasmine’s grandmother were in the room with her just before she lost consciousness. It was reported that no one else was in the room.
While it remains unclear what Singletary’s cause of death was, a medical examiner eventually discovered that the special needs daughter suffered “massive” internal injuries just before she died. The medical examiner indicated that they found injuries to Singletary’s ribs and liver that were not present before she arrived at the hospital.
The medical examiner also explained that the injuries were massive enough to kill Jasmine Singletary and that she would have likely died minutes after sustaining them. According to Chief Randall, “the medical examiner indicated that the injuries were so severe that Jasmine would have died only minutes after receiving them and that they had to have occurred while she was confined to her hospital bed.”
While there was no security camera footage inside the room, investigators suspected that Jessica Bortle caused the “massive injuries” to her 14-year-old daughter while she was helpless in the hospital room. Authorities questioned Bortle and were led to believe that she injured her daughter, causing her death.
The State Attorney’s Office reported that Jessica Bortle was arrested on Monday and is being held in Escambia County Jail. According to her Facebook page, Bortle is from Bonifay, Florida.
Jasmine Singletary’s grandmother has not yet been charged with a crime. It was not reported whether the grandmother is a person of interest in the case. According to reports, Singletary’s grandmother opened up to investigators about the events on July 16th.
She told authorities that she saw Jessica Bortle slam Jasmine with the table after the special needs daughter threw her crayons on the floor. The grandmother pleaded with Bortle to calm down and told her “that’s just how Jasmine is.” It was a few moments later that she heard her granddaughter call out to her, saying “grandma” before her eyes rolled back in her head.
Video footage from outside the hospital room showed Jessica Bortle exit into the hallway while “shaking and flexing her hand as if in pain.” Moments later, hospital staff rushed into the room after finding Jasmine Singletary unconscious.
In a press release by the Pensacola Police, Singletary was referred to as “special needs.” It was reported that she was diagnosed with a “neuromuscular disorder,” though it wasn’t immediately clear what she had.
A spokesperson for the Pensacola Police Department said that “our goal is to continue to work closely with the State Attorney’s Office in the prosecution of this case. The Pensacola Police Department extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Jasmine Singletary.”
Jessica Bortle made her first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon in Escambia County court through a video feed. Escambia County Judge Amy Brodersen set Bortle’s bond at $500,000 after Assistant State Attorney Alvin “trey” Myers made the initial request for bail to be set no less than $250,000. Myers cited the severity of the case. Brodersen assigned Bortle’s case to the Public Defender’s Office, a report claimed.
The suspect has not yet posted bail and remained in jail as of Tuesday afternoon. She faces a potential sentence of up to 30 years in state prison if convicted of aggravated manslaughter.
A statement from Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital expressed their heartbreak at the tragic death of Jasmine Singletary. “The loss of Jasmine was an unimaginable tragedy for those who loved her and it was heartbreaking for the nurses and doctors in our Children’s Hospital who cared for her,” the statement read. “We send our deepest sympathies and our prayers for her family and all who knew her.”