These inconsistencies undermine what little faith is left in our courts.  Personally, I do not think parents should be charged in these accidental infant/toddler deaths. Their addictions “hijacked their brains”* and the loss of the child is punishment enough.

  • I have read many definitions of addiction, but  “the drugs hijack your brain” by a psycho forensic evaluator in the PD’s office is excellent. 

Excerpt from the Article:

Heather Carey was actively using the synthetic painkiller fentanyl when her 3-year-old son got his hands on her drugs and fatally overdosed. Carey didn’t know her son had ingested any of her fentanyl because she passed out in her bedroom on the night of Aug. 17 after using, according to court records.

It wasn’t until the following morning that she and her boyfriend found their son, Avery Santiago, cold and blue in their bed, court papers say.

Avery Santiago died from a fentanyl overdose in his Wilmington home in August 2018. His mother was charged with murder by abuse or neglect. It took nearly a month before Avery Santiago’s toxicology report revealed the toddler died from fentanyl. Nearly a month later, lab reports showed that Carey, whose blood was drawn at the time of her son’s death, had fentanyl in her system, too.

Wilmington police charged her with murder by abuse or neglect in October. Carey pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year.

Court documents tell a tragic story of a mother addicted to drugs and unable to stop using, even while getting treatment at Brandywine Counseling and Community Services and even when it meant using in front of her toddler. “People are obviously using in front of their kids,” said Rosalie Morales, who oversees the panel reviews of child deaths and near deaths by the Child Protection Accountability Commission. “It’s this neglectful behavior that’s resulting in these kids getting their hands on this.”

Court records also shed light on the difficulties investigators face when determining blame and intention in cases that lead to overdose deaths of children, especially when all cases do not end in these charges.

Take Ronald Deptula, a 13-month-old toddler who died from acute morphine intoxication in January 2017. More than two years have passed since he overdosed in his home and no charges have been filed.

His grandparents can’t understand why, especially because Ronnie Deptula wasn’t prescribed morphine. John and Paulene Buchanan, who now have custody of Ronnie’s older sister, Libby, have little access to the answers they so desperately seek.

More: Children are overdosing, sometimes dying, on drugs every year in Delaware

The Whole Story