Mother faces judge following methadone death of 3-year-old - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Mother faces judge following methadone death of 3-year-old

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Jessica Jean York (CT State Police) Jessica Jean York (CT State Police)
ROCKVILLE, CT (WFSB) -

A woman arrested in connection with the death of her 3-year-old child appeared in court on Wednesday in Rockville.

According to investigators, 24-year-old Jessica Jean York's son died of methadone intoxication after she left it on her nightstand. Family identified Leon Lapierre as a boy who enjoyed wrestling with his two other brothers.

The child's death was ruled a homicide. York was arrested on Tuesday and charged with second-degree manslaughter, risk of injury to a child and first-degree reckless endangerment. 

According to the arrest warrant, emergency crews were called on April 22 just before 11 a.m. to the home on Old Birch Road in Stafford.

The caller, who was identified as "Jessica," reported that she put her son to sleep the night before and when she went to go check on him the next morning, she found him not breathing. She said she saw vomit in the child's mouth.

When emergency personnel arrived, they pronounced the child dead at the scene.

"There should be more charges for more people and DCF (Department of Children and Families) should be one of them," grandmother Robin Pelc said.

York's 2-year-old and 4-year-old sons are in the custody of DCF, which released a statement on the case on Wednesday afternoon.

"This little boy is yet another tragic victim of the opioid crisis gripping our state and the rest of the country," DCF spokesperson Gary Kleeblatt said. "In this case, we worked closely with law enforcement throughout their investigation and carefully reviewed our involvement with the family and services we offered to the mother."

DCF had visited the home in the past, with reports from the school and others concerned about the children. 

"There was a lot of people calling, schools, doctors, emergency rooms, me. I called too and they didn't do anything," Pelc said.

York refused their help and reports of abuse came back unsubstantiated through DCF, according to the warrant.

State troopers said they observed the home to be in deplorable condition. Garbage was described as being all over the place.

"He observed what appeared to be urine and animal feces in the kitchen and of the residence," one detective wrote in the arrest warrant. 

York allowed troopers to search her cell phone.

State police said they found a text from someone named Summer that read "I got some extra methadone for $20 if you need it."

Troopers called York a known heroin user. Dispatchers received calls about her drug activity in the past. However, she had no criminal history.

They said they found wax envelopes in York's bedroom that were heroin packs labeled "Chosen Few."

Her boyfriend also told investigators that York has had drug issues in the past.

York later admitted to troopers that she was a heroin addict and relapsed the year before the incident. She also said that she has used methadone, to which she does not have a prescription.

State forensic scientists confirmed that methadone, among other things, was in York's blood at that time.

York's boyfriend told investigators that she would get liquid methadone at least once a week. He would see the bottle on her nightstand.

However, he could not verify if the bottle was on the nightstand when York's son died.

Investigators found that the methadone that "Summer" would get came from another man.

York said she would use the methadone, then throw out the containers.

The man told investigators that he sold his methadone, which he purchased from a clinic, to help other people get "clean" from heroin.

Investigators said they also found another text on York's phone to her boyfriend the day before her son's death that read "my methadone is gone."

In August, a final autopsy and toxicology report was completed in which the cause of death was certified as "acute methadone intoxication."

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner noted that methadone was in the boy's blood and gastric fluid.  

The child's grandmother was at the courthouse on Wednesday, and said she had just seen her grandson a week before he died. The family is estranged and Leon's father wasn't involved in his life.

"That family kept us out they wouldn't allow us to see the kids and that's why I'm upset because nobody would listen," said Robin Pelc, Leon's grandmother.

York was arraigned at Rockville Superior Court on Wednesday morning. York's attorney Peter Billings said his client has no criminal record and has strong ties to community, parents, and brother.

"She's grieving and continues to grieve the loss of her son and has been absolutely devastating for her and her family," Billings said. "Beyond that I have no further comment." 

Billings added that York did work at various jobs and trying to get into treatment last year. There are no allegations of intentional misconduct. 

Judge Samuelson Sferrazza said it's clear York is not capable of taking care of herself and doesn't believe she will appear in court on herself.  Her bond was left at $500,000. 

Her next court appearance is Nov. 17. 

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