Muriel Keer, the 39-year-old mom (and alleged drug abuser) being investigated for child abuse resulting in death, was prostrate with grief after emergency personnel couldn't revive her nine-month-old baby, found lifeless in a bathtub. But while the boy breathed his last, police say she was tapping away on her computer in a different room.
Keer was arrested on a drug charge while she was pregnant, then handed a four-year sentence suspended in lieu of three-years' worth of probation. Then, this past November, she came up positive on a drug test and was jailed. She insists prescription medication actually caused her to fail; get more details below. As a result, however, she gave birth to Aldrich Leathers behind bars.
Then, on September 20 at around 10:30 p.m., Denver Police responded to a call at Keer's home, on the 2700 block of East 33rd Avenue. Aldrich wasn't breathing, and he was declared dead a short time later.
What happened? Keer reportedly was in the home with several other adults. But after putting Aldrich in the tub, she headed to the kitchen, jumped on her computer and allegedly forgot about the baby. He was discovered not by her, but by another man in the house.
This incident can't help recalling one from this past January. That's when Shannon Johnson was allegedly playing a Facebook game as her baby drowned. The following April, Johnson was sentenced to ten years behind bars.
Formal charges haven't been leveled against Keer yet, but they're expected soon. In the meantime, look below to see a CBS4 report about the case, followed by previous coverage from Melanie Asmar, including Keer's previously unreported connection to a figure in the Robert Walters homicide/murder-for-hire case.
Original item, 11:29 a.m. September 22: A neighbor says that Muriel Keer, 39, was hysterical with grief after discovering nine-month-old Aldrich Leathers not breathing in a bathtub, repeatedly screaming, "Oh no, not my baby!" The boy later died, and police have arrested Keer, who has a recent history of drug problems. But she insisted she was clean in an unpublished Westword interview connected to the Robert Walters murder case.
Keer was romantically involved with a witness in the case named Michael Leathers. Leathers is a former jail mate of Walters, who was found guilty last week of murdering his girlfriend, Brittney Brashers. Leathers became involved in the case when he told police that Walters had solicited him to kill his wife, Elena Walters, so she couldn't testify against him at trial. Leathers told police that he refused.
According to court documents, Leathers was in jail because he had violated his parole on a 1999 conviction of beating a homeless man. Leathers went to prison for ten years and was released sometime in 2009. But in March 2010, parole officers found suspected marijuana, meth, baggies and a scale in his apartment, along with a handgun.
Shortly thereafter, Keer wrote a letter to the court in which she claimed responsibility for the drugs and the gun. "His only true crime was helping me," she wrote. "I brought terrible things into his house without direct permission or knowledge from Michael."
Keer was also arrested in connection with the find, and in October, she pleaded guilty to drug possession. A judge suspended the four-year prison sentence she was given at that time in lieu of three years worth of supervised probation.
In Keer's letter, which is undated, she explained that she was pregnant with Leathers's baby. "Since I've learned of my pregnancy I have myself changed my life and activities which are dangerous to me in nature," she wrote. "I have decided to have our son at home with a midwife, doula and most importantly, without the epidural or any medications... I really need Michael home to provide for us. He is an excellent worker."
Leathers also wrote a letter to the court. "All of (my) accomplishments pale as achievements when compared to falling in love with Muriel Keer," he wrote. "Your Honor, my life had been one absent of responsibility until I met her. Love may have blinded me in some regards but I believe it has helped fine tune the better parts of me.
"Muriel, and now our son Aldrich, have become my focus, my purpose, my motivation and inspiration. Everything that I do now is done with my family in mind."
Leathers was cut a deal for his cooperation in the Walters case. Court records show a judge reduced the thirty-year-old's sentence at the request of prosecutors. Leathers is now serving the remainder of a two-year sentence.
Meanwhile, Keer got into more trouble. She reportedly failed a drug test required under the probation arrangement, which caused her supervised probation to be increased to four years instead of three.
But Keer claims the drug test results were false. She called Westword after we published a blog post about Leathers's involvement in the Walters case. Keer said she wanted to report how she'd been mistreated by the justice system -- specifically in regard to her son Aldrich, who was born November 27.
Keer said the drugs found in her system were not methamphetamines, as the district attorney told the judge -- a disclosure that caused her to go jail. Instead, she said they were opiates that had been prescribed to her by the doctor overseeing her pregnancy.
But that mix-up didn't get sorted out until after she went to jail, she said. While incarcerated, she went into labor and was forced to give birth to Aldrich in a hospital, instead of at home with a midwife like she'd wanted.
After Aldrich was born, Keer said the hospital tested his meconium, which is an infant's first stool and is comprised of material the infant ingests in utero. Keer claims Aldrich's meconium was negative for meth (but positive for the opiates her doctor prescribed). As such, she said, she was released from jail. She called the entire process "traumatizing," adding that she was considering filing a civil lawsuit.
Keer also revealed something else: A paternity test had shown that Leathers was not, in fact, Aldrich's father. She did not specify who the father was.
Cut to September 20 at around 10:30 p.m., when Denver Police responded to a call at Keer's home, on the 2700 block of East 33rd Avenue. Aldrich wasn't breathing. He was declared dead a short time later.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
At this point, the Denver coroner hasn't reached a final conclusion about the cause of Aldrich's death; results are pending. Meanwhile, Keer is being held for investigation of child abuse resulting in death.
Look below to see a larger version of Keer's mug shot, as well as a 9News report on her arrest.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Robert Walters trial: Jury hears opposing theories of Brittney Brashers's death."