Friday, January 11, 2008

Mom gets probation in baby's meth overdose

Mom gets probation in baby's meth overdose
Linda Thomson Deseret Morning News
WEST JORDAN -- A woman whose 5-month-old baby died of an overdose of methamphetamine was sentenced to probation Thursday and directed by a judge to continue getting drug treatment and also counseling for domestic-violence victims.
Third District Judge Stephen Roth also ordered Mary Joyce Lacey, 23, to perform 300 hours of community service through outreach efforts to other drug addicts to help people learn what a "terrible curse" methamphetamine addiction is.
The judge praised Lacey for doing well in an in-patient rehab program but noted Lacey's actions put the baby in a dangerous situation that proved to be fatal.
"It was a terrible situation, and you were in the middle of it in a number of different ways," Roth said.
"Time and time again, I have seen mothers who otherwise love their children lose their ability to put their child's welfare ahead of their own (due to substance abuse)," the judge said.
Lacey last year pleaded guilty to third-degree felony abuse of a dead human body for her role in moving her dead daughter, Estella Lacey, from the home of her parolee ex-boyfriend to another residence to protect him.
The former boyfriend, Raymond Daniel Chesley, 44, pleaded guilty to second-degree felony manslaughter, and Roth sentenced him in February to one-to-15 years in prison in Utah. The judge ordered that sentence to run consecutively to another prison term Chesley must serve in Colorado for the unrelated crime of felony harassment.
Utah law enforcement officials say Chesley left a plastic bag of meth lying near the child, who apparently managed to eat enough of it to overdose on Dec. 28, 2005, at Chesley's Taylorsville home.
Lacey's attorney, Jacob Taylor, said his client was asleep at the time and woke up to find the baby unconscious.
The child suffered overdose symptoms and died, but neither Chesley nor Lacey called for medical help. Instead, both put the baby's body in a truck and moved her to another residence in Murray.
Taylor said Lacey's drug use played into her terrible decisionmaking, while prosecutor Riley Player said Lacey was terrified of Chesley, who was characterized by several people as "a very violent and controlling individual."
"She should be duly punished for what she did," Player said.
But he added there were other factors to consider, including the fact that Lacey's cooperation broke the case against Chesley.
"She stands before the court as a mother who lost a child as well as a mother who allowed her child to be put in harm's way," Player said.
Roth on Thursday imposed a zero-to-five-year prison term for Lacey but suspended it, put her on 36-months probation, ordered drug and domestic violence treatment and directed her to get a mental health evaluation and treatment if needed.
"I miss my daughter very much," a tearful Lacey told the judge.
She added that, when she is able, she wants to establish a foundation in Estella's name to educate others. "I want to make sure this never happens again."
E-mail: lindat@desnews.com
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