- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Charges have been upgraded against a Columbia mother whose 5-month-old son died last month from an unmonitored heart condition.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said 28-year-old Jennifer Coles was charged Monday with homicide by child abuse. It carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. She had been charged with illegal neglect of a child, which carries up to 10 years behind bars.

Authorities say Coles‘ son was premature and she failed to give him medicine he needed for heart and breathing problems. The sheriff says a monitor that would check the boy’s heart and breathing rate was almost never used.

Department of Social Services workers tried to find the family five times but failed before the boy’s death.

It wasn’t known if Coles had a lawyer.