In Escambia County, Alabama, a 36-year-old mother has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for her involvement in the fatal abuse of her 14-year-old special-needs daughter. Jessica Bortle was convicted for the 2021 death of her daughter, Jasmine Singletary, who succumbed to severe internal injuries.
Bortle was initially charged with negligent manslaughter and aggravated child abuse. Prosecutors alleged that Bortle, in a fit of anger, slammed a table into her daughter’s abdomen while the child was confined to a hospital bed. However, a jury later found her guilty of battery and child abuse, both lesser charges than the initial ones.
Following the verdict, the judge merged Bortle’s battery conviction into the child abuse charge. Bortle was also credited with 212 days already served and was ordered to serve three years of probation upon her release.
The case came to light when officers from the Pensacola Police Department responded to a call from the District One Medical Examiner’s Office about a homicide at Sacred Heart Hospital involving a 14-year-old girl with a neuromuscular disorder. The victim had been admitted to the hospital with a suspicious head injury and later died from massive internal injuries.
An autopsy revealed that Jasmine had two fractured ribs and a severely damaged liver due to blunt force trauma. Surveillance footage from the hospital showed Bortle leaving her daughter’s room and appearing to be in pain shortly before hospital staff discovered Jasmine unconscious.
Bortle initially denied any knowledge of what could have caused her daughter’s injuries but later confessed to striking the girl with a hospital table in anger. She admitted to leaning onto the table with her weight, even after her daughter expressed pain, and accepted responsibility for causing the injury that led to Jasmine’s death.
In her defense, Bortle claimed the incident was an accident and that she had no intention of harming her daughter. However, the jury found her guilty of battery and child abuse, concluding that she had intentionally caused physical harm to her daughter.
The tragic case underscores the severity of child abuse and the need for vigilance and intervention to protect vulnerable children. Bortle’s sentencing serves as a reminder of the legal consequences of such actions.