A Duncan woman was sentenced to four years in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections Thursday on the felony charge of second-degree manslaughter in the drowning death of her infant daughter.

One year and two days after the death of her 6-month-old daughter, Letha Slate, Patricia Campbell, 23, was given the maximum penalty allowed by law for her part in the tragedy.

Letha was found floating face down in the bathtub by her father, John Slate, when he came home from work for lunch on March 25, 2006. Letha died in an Oklahoma City hospital two days later.

Campbell, in a taped interview with police officials that was played during her non-jury trial, said she put the baby in the tub and then went into the next room and fell asleep. She said she usually filled the tub pretty full because the baby liked to play in the water.

Campbell pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter Jan. 30, after the court dismissed the charge of second-degree murder because prosecutors had not provided enough evidence to satisfy all the elements necessary to support the count of murder rather than manslaughter.

District Judge Joe H. Enos then ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set Thursday’s sentencing date.

Prior to handing down the judgment Thursday afternoon, Enos listened to a plea from Campbell’s mother, Sue Menges, for a suspended sentence.

Menges said her daughter had taken good care of Letha and therefore didn’t deserve to spend four years in prison. She said Campbell had a hard time with Letha’s death, and that immediately following the baby’s accident, “She was constantly crying, upset. She was trying to protect herself. She was a mess.

“She pulled away from everybody and everything. She was lost. Letha was gone, and that was her world.”

Dennis Gay, first assistant district attorney, then called upon John Slate, the baby’s father, and his mother, Patsy Thomas, to deliver victim’s impact statements to the court. Both addressed a portion of those statements to Campbell.

Thomas said, “I hope the Lord forgives you for what you did. I want you to wonder how long she cried for you to help her.”

In his statement, Slate said Letha was the light of his life.

“I have gotten married, gotten a new job and bought a new house, but none of these can replace Letha.

“This is about her,” he said. “This is not about you (directed to Campbell). I refuse to hate you. You did not mean this to happen, but you were neglectful.

“This is not about what kind of person Patricia is,” he said. “It’s about what happened that day. She made a conscious decision.”

Campbell herself was also given a chance to speak.

“We all loved that little girl. We wanted to see her grow up,” Campbell said.

“There are many people who are hurt. I punish myself every day because she’s not here.

“I wish there was something I could do to make it different. I wish every day I didn’t walk away. I have to live with that.”

Defense attorney John Stuart said, “I realize it will be difficult to determine a just sentence … but she took responsibility for her actions and pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and she will suffer the rest of her life, no matter how long she might serve in jail.”

Following her sentencing, Campbell was taken into custody. She will remain in the Stephens County Jail until transferred to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Campbell still has the right to appeal the court’s decision.

“This is an appropriate resolution for the case under the circumstances we now find ourselves,” summed up Assistant DA Dennis Gay.

As for Slate and his family, they were satisfied with the decision.

“She finally found justice,” said John Slate, after leaving the courtroom.

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