The mother and stepfather of 16-year-old Kendal Ball claim they were trying to teach him “a lesson about alcohol,” but it was a lesson that killed him. Prosecutors say the Lyman, Wyo., teen died of acute alcohol poisoning after joining stepfather Joseph Richardson and a friend for a drinking session in early July, the Uinta County Herald reports. The boy’s mother, Paulette Richardson, told investigators that he drank a few shots of Fireball whiskey and a few shots of Jack Daniel’s over two-hour period on July 6 before going to bed around 10:30pm. The stepfather called an ambulance after he checked on the teen at 3:45am and found him unresponsive. The coroner says Kendal had a blood alcohol content of 0.587—more than seven times Wyoming’s legal limit for an adult.
The Richardsons were yesterday charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. According to court documents, they told investigators they wanted to “get him sick” because he had since age 13 been expressing a desire to drink and they didn’t want him to become an alcoholic like his biological father. The prosecutor tells the Herald that the case shows the dangers of some “traditional parenting lore.” “Sometimes a person’s actions have tragic results, and there are often criminal consequences for those poor decisions.” The AP reports the Richardsons were still in county jail as of yesterday and have a preliminary hearing on Friday. (Police say a Missouri family staged a kidnapping because they thought a 6-year-old boy was “too nice” to strangers.)