Timothy Elkins, a 36-year-old father of nine, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Madison County Court to involuntary manslaughter of a family member in connection with the asphyxiation death of his 2-month-old son Matthew in a garbage-filled New Douglas home on a frigid night in January.
Elkins was sentenced to six years by Circuit Judge Kyle Anne Napp, who also sentenced him to 30 days time served for a Class A misdemeanor count of child endangerment. Nine other counts, one felony and eight misdemeanors, were dismissed in a plea bargain sought by defense attorney Tom Hildebrand. Elkins remains in custody.
Infant Matthew Elkins was in a car seat that somehow pitched forward during the night, coming to rest against a nearby grimy mattress where the entire family — seven children along with both parents — was sleeping. Another daughter lives apart from the family. According to a police report, his mother Amy Elkins, also 36, had placed the baby in a car seat so he wouldn’t accidentally be crushed by another family member or harmed by the family cat.
Madison County Sheriff’s deputies were appalled by the interior of the home on 406 N. Main St., which had windows broken out and contained rooms that were piled to within a foot of so of the ceiling by trash bags that had accumulated for months. Dogs feces, discarded food and trash littered the relatively few spaces that were not taken up by black trash bags.
Court records show that the family, especially an older daughter, as well as Amy Elkins, had worked with a social worker from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to clean up the home but had then allowed it to again be filled with bags of garbage. According to a police report, Tim Elkins, who was unemployed, said the family could not afford to pay for trash removal. Reports showed that he did not cooperate with a social worker.
At about 5 a.m. Jan . 31, Amy Elkins discovered that Matthew was not breathing and wrapped him in a blanket then raced across the street to the home of her mother, Mary Rosenthal, who called 911 but could not get through. Rosenthal called another daughter, Susan Garcia, who lived in the village. Garcia, along with her husband Christopher, ran to Rosenthal’s home a half block away where Christopher attempted CPR on the infant who was still not breathing.
A call got through to 911 and police and emergency personnel soon filled the home. Emergency Medical Technicians took over attempting to resuscitate Matthew but could not get him to breathe.
Amy Elkins faces the same 11 counts that were levied against her husband. She is set for trial in Madison County Court on Oct. 2 and is free on bond. She previously declined to speak with News-Democrat reporters.