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Women sentenced in connection with 4-year-old’s drowning death

NEWKIRK, Okla. – Authorities say a woman who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection to the death of her 4-year-old niece has been sentenced for the crime.

On July 27, 2015, emergency crews were called to a possible drowning at the swim beach at Ponca Lake. When crews arrived, officials say bystanders were already performing CPR on 4-year-old Haley Primeaux.

Primeaux was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Authorities from the Ponca City Police Department say at the time of the drowning, Primeaux was in the care of her aunt, Wanita Gale Jackson, and her grandmother, Ester Lee Bales.

Investigators began taking a closer look at Jackson and Bales after they learned that the pair brought 16 children, ranging in age from 1 to 14-years-old, to the lake but could not watch them all. The affidavit states that most of the children were under the age of 5.

Court documents state that Jackson told police that “it was approximately 15 minutes from the last time I saw [Haley Primeaux] until someone found her and brought her on the beach. I had so many kids to watch. Is she going to be okay? Surely she will be okay. God wouldn’t do this to me.”

At one point, officials say that Bales left the lake to buy cigarettes from a nearby store, which is when the drowning occurred.

According to the affidavit, a man told police that he “noticed a hair about 6 inches under the water” and pulled Primeaux out of the water, but noticed she was “cool to the touch.”

Several months later, officials arrested Bales and Jackson on charges of second-degree murder or in the alternative felony child neglect.

Earlier this week, Jackson was sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but five of those years suspended after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

Last year, Bales was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison with credit for time served.