Texas Father was Busy Playing Video Games While Infant Daughter Drowned in Tub with Water Running

Justin Ray Kidwell
Justin Ray Kidwell Twitter

A 20-year-old Texas father has been arrested after his 8-month-old daughter drowned in a bathtub last year while he was so "engrossed" playing video games that he failed check on the child.

Justin Ray Kidwell was arrested on Monday, March 4, in Burkburnett, around 150 miles northwest of Dallas, and charged with one count of felony murder in the little girl's death, authorities announced.

Kidwell was 'Too Engrossed in Video Games' While Infant Drowned

According to a news release from the Burkburnett Police Department, officers on May 14, 2023, responded to a 911 call from a residence located in the 200 block of South Avenue B regarding an unresponsive infant.

Upon arriving at the address, the emergency responders said they found the infant girl "tragically deceased after being taken from the bathtub." Police detectives as well as Texas Rangers investigated the death for several months before determining that the victim was "sadly left unattended in the bathtub with the water running" and drowned.

The infant's drowning was directly attributed to Kidwell paying more attention to video games than his own daughter. "The forensic examination of electronic devices, notably the father's computer, revealed a timeline that indicated the father, Justin Kidwell, who was the only adult home at the time, was engrossed in video games while the child was left unsupervised," police wrote in the release.

Based on the timeline police established, a warrant was issued for Kidwell's arrest on one count of felony murder. That warrant also carries a recommended bond of $500,000. Officers and rangers on Monday executed the warrant and took Kidwell into custody.

A Child Under Kidwell's Supervision Previously Accidentally Ate THC Edibles

Though Kidwell is only 20, this is not the first time he's found himself in legal trouble for allegedly causing harm to a child. In December 2022 he reached a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to one count of abandoning or endangering a child. However, a district court judge deferred adjudication of Kidwell's guilt which would allow him to avoid a conviction if he completed three years of probation, as reported by Law & Crime.

In that case, prosecutors said that Kidwell in August 2021 placed a little girl in "imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment by lacing and/or allowing a controlled substance within reach of the child." Further, Kidwell failed to "deliver the child to a designated emergency infant care provider."

According to an affidavit, Kidwell had placed his girlfriend's child in a car seat in his car that was within reach of 120 mg THC edibles, which the child then ate.

Following the death of his daughter last year, the Wichita County District Attorney's Office filed court documents accusing Kidwell of violating the terms of his probation and requesting that the court convict him on the child endangerment charge. Such alleged violations include failing to maintain employment, pay fines, and report to his probation officer.