Mother found guilty of lesser charge in death of disabled daughter

A woman in black shirt and brown hair.Jessica Bortle


A Bonifay mother was found guilty July 28 of battery and child abuse in an Escambia County courtroom.


36-year-old Jessica Bortle was facing charges of negligent manslaughter and aggravated child abuse stemming from a fatal incident involving her 14-year-old disabled daughter, Jasmine Singletary, in July 2021, but was instead found guilty of the two lesser charges.


Singletary, who had a neuromuscular disorder, was hospitalized July 8, 2021 at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola with a closed head injury of ‘suspicious origins,’ according to court records. A CAT scan later showed two closed head injuries from which she was recovering; there were no other injuries at that time.


Singletary lost consciousness and died, despite life-saving measures taken by hospital staff.


An autopsy revealed Singletary suffered massive injuries to her torso, including broken ribs, and her liver was ‘ripped open from blunt force trauma,’ injuries the medical examiner stated took place while she was confined to her bed.


Video footage from the hospital showed Bortle exiting the room, shaking and flexing her hand just before her daughter was found unconscious.


Investigators say Bortle initially lied and stated she didn’t know what caused her daughter’s injuries but later confessed to causing the injuries that led to Singletary’s death.


Bortle stated Singletary began cursing and screaming about her crayons, causing Bortle to become angry. She then slammed the hospital table into Singletary and put her full weight on the table causing the injuries that killed her daughter. Bortle then went on to call the incident ‘an accident’ in a recorded statement.


The medical examiner testified Singletary’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the torso.


Bortle is set to be sentenced on October 4.


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