5 MONTH OLD BENJAMIN SARGENT LEFT IN CAR SEAT FOR 8 DAYS WITH NO FOOD, WATER OR DIAPER CHANGES, DIES – CCA0007
5 MONTH OLD BENJAMIN SARGENT LEFT IN CAR SEAT FOR 8 DAYS WITH NO FOOD, WATER OR DIAPER CHANGES
5-month-old Benjamin Sargent was dropped off at his parents’ house strapped into his car seat. Eight days later, he was found in the same position. Benjamin died from an infection caused by the feces in his diaper that eventually ate through his skin, resulting from lying in his own waste, which had not been changed or attended to in 8 days. His ‘parents’, Tracy Hermann and James Sargent, not only neglected to change their infant son, but neglected to feed him as well. The 5 month old baby boy only weighed 2 lbs. more than what he weighed at birth.
Benjamin Sargent died with his eyes open, fists clenched and strapped into a car seat after eight days without food or water.
Now what could distract two parents so much that they fail to even remove their son from his car seat, let alone forget about him for eight days? Surely it wasn’t the video games they played throughout the week, and cooking meals for themselves. And I doubt they played the music that loud for fun, more so to drown out the cries from the baby, starving and sitting in his own waste.
It’s the worst case of child neglect we have seen since the turn of this century, State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons said. Lyons said the death of Benjamin Sargent had rattled him and went on to say the parents simply left Benjamin in his crib, strapped in the seat, while they played video games, slept and ate.
Police interviewed Sargent, who at first told them he had moved the baby “once or twice,” but later conceded that he might not have moved Benjamin at all during the week. Hermann’s last contact with her son was the night before police were notified. Then, she allegedly told police she “looked at the baby in the crib and presumed he was sleeping so she said she stuck a bottle between the baby and the side of the car seat so that when he woke up, he could grab it and feed himself,”. When hearing this in court, Lyons simply stated “In case the court had missed it earlier, Benjamin Sargent was five months old,”, staring directly at Hermann. Hermann also told police “that Benjamin was not her duty and that it was James’ responsibility.”
The house, Lyons said, was in complete disarray, with clothing everywhere and spoiled food left out. The temperature in the baby’s room was nearly 80 degrees and was also filthy, he said.
Tracy D. Hermann, 21, and James E. Sargent, 23, both of 3012 W. Proctor St., were charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Additionally, the charges state the parents’ actions or lack thereof, were “brutal and heinous . . . indicative of wanton cruelty,” factors that could mean they face up to 100 years in prison if convicted. Lyons also said he might seek the death penalty for the two and has 120 days to make such a decision. State law allows a capital charge if the accused is older than 17 and the victim is younger than 12.
Prosecutors from Lyons’ juvenile division have already begun proceedings to permanently remove Hermann’s 3-year-old daughter from the home. That child was staying with another family member but is now in foster care with Department of Family and Children’s Services.
Saying James Sargent showed a “complete and total lack of remorse” for the death of his son, a Peoria County judge sentenced him to the maximum of 100 years in prison. Tracy Herman was sentenced to 50 years after she pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her son Benjamin. She will have to serve her entire sentence.