'Aiden's Law' would require policies and procedures to be in place to address the needs of infants affected by illegal substance abuse.
A Harbeson couple has been sentenced for the murder of their infant son. In response to the case, a Sussex County legislator is working to pass “Aiden’s Law.”
Aiden Hundley was just three months old in May 2015 when his parents called 911 to report their son was having a seizure. Doctors found he was malnourished and had multiple broken bones, retinal hemorrhages, a subdural hematoma and a blood infection.
Five months later, Aiden was taken off of life support. His cause of death was ruled homicide due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Aiden’s parents, then 28-year-old Casey Layton and 37-year-old Doyle Hundley, were charged with his murder. According to court documents, both were long-time opiate addicts. Aiden was born addicted, and spent about a month in intensive care before being allowed by the Delaware Division of Family Services to go home with his parents.
Layton blamed Aiden’s death on Hundley, and said that he threatened to kill her if she called police. Both eventually pleaded guilty. Layton, now 30, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Hundley, who is now 40, to 20 years.
“It seems like a bit of a light sentence,” said Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown.
In March 2016, Briggs King co-sponsored “Aiden’s Law,” a bill that would require policies and procedures to be in place to address the needs of infants affected by illegal substance abuse.
“It didn’t make it through the session because of money issues,” she said. “One of them being that it would have had a $1.5 million effect on the budget.”
Briggs King and her colleagues were, however, allowed to create a committee to research the issue. Aiden’s Law was rehashed, rewritten and reintroduced last year as House Bill 140. It passed the Judiciary Committee and is now awaiting the approval of the Appropriations Committee.
“The good news is, this year, the governor proposed additional money for the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families to add 30 new caseworkers,” Briggs King said.
Attorney General Matt Denn has been working with Briggs King and other legislators to draft a bill to incentivize substance abuse treatment for expectant mothers.
“We have a lot of addicted women that are expecting and only 18 treatment beds for them in Delaware,” she said. “We’re asking the legislature to allocate money from the strategic fund to create these new housing facilities so that [the private sector] would be able to apply for an economic development grant.”