Woman charged with child neglect after 9-year-old daughter's death

(Highlands County Sheriff's Office)

A woman in Highlands County has been charged with child neglect in connection with her 9-year-old daughter's death earlier this year.

Highlands County Sheriff's deputies arrested 29-year-old Elizabeth Markley after investigating the death of her daughter, who died in February.

According to the sheriff's office, Markley's daughter was born with significant medical issues, including complex congenital heart disease and having no spleen.

Over the past two years, investigators found Markley missed 11 of her daughter's cardiology appointments, and said her excuses for missing those appointments were not true.

Deputies said Markley had not been filling her daughter's prescription medications, including antibiotics needed to help her fight off infections since her lack of a spleen left her immune system vulnerable.

Markley's daughter became ill on Feb. 23 and got progressively worse. On Feb. 26, the night before the 9-year-old girl died, deputies said she had been going in and out of consciousness. However, investigators said Markley did not seek medical treatment until the following morning when she drove the girl to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

By the time she brought her daughter to the hospital, the girl was struggling to breathe and had begun to turn blue, the sheriff's office said.

Doctors at the hospital estimated the 9-year-old had been in septic shock at home for 12 hours before she was brought to All Children's. The girl died Feb. 27.

The medical examiner said the girl's cause of death was pneumonia with contributing factors of congenital heart disease, as well as fluid and electrolyte imbalances.

Deputies arrested Markley and charged her with child neglect with great bodily harm, a second-degree felony. Her bond was set at $100,000.

The sheriff's office said if Markley is convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation and a $10,000 fine.