Craig Mother Changes Plea to Guilty in Toddler Son’s Christmas Eve Death

The mother of the toddler boy who died in a house fire last year on Christmas Eve in Craig has changed her plea to Guilty ahead of her scheduled December trial. In a joint press release issued on November 27th by the District Attorney’s Office and Craig Police Captain Bill Leonard, Vanessa Jenkins pleaded guilty to Criminally Negligent Homicide, a class 5 felony, on November 26th in the case of the 2018 Christmas Eve house fire that killed 3-year-old Lane E. Cullen. Jenkins was arrested in April and entered a plea of Not Guilty in August prompting the court to schedule Jenkins for trial to begin on December 16th. According to the arrest warrant affidavit shared in a Craig Daily Press article, the house fire was started by the 3-year-old who had learned how to play with lighters in which the safety devices were removed and Jenkins admitted that her son had already set fire in the house on a previous occasion. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation determined the fire was most likely started by the lighter being used by the boy. Last week’s press release states that law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office alleged that Ms. Jenkins negligently and unreasonably placed the child in a situation that resulted in his death. “Although the criminal process cannot bring Lane back to us, this plea offers a measure of justice for Lane and his family,” shared Assistant District Attorney Matthew Tjosvold. Detective Norm Rimmer of the Craig Police Department lead the investigation. “Norm Rimmer did a great job for Lane in this case, and we thank him” said Tjosvold. Investigators from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and Craig Fire Rescue also assisted in the case. Jenkins trial has been cancelled and she is now scheduled for a sentencing hearing in the Moffat County District Court on February 10th.


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