MARION COUNTY, Fla. — Authorities on Tuesday charged the parents of a 2-year-old girl months after she died of a fentanyl overdose, WFTV reported.
Joseph Arthur Tierney and Jalynn Nichole Davis, both 36, were already jailed on unrelated charges in Marion County and Lake County, respectively, Marion County sheriff’s deputies said in a news release. They will also face an aggravated manslaughter of a child charge for the June death of their daughter, Miya Tierney, investigators said.
Authorities began investigating after responding June 13 to a report of an unresponsive child at a home on Southeast Highway 42 in Umatilla, according to officials and WFTV. Deputies and paramedics administered CPR to Miya and transported her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Davis and Tierney told investigators that they left Miya asleep in a bedroom for 30 minutes and found her unresponsive when they returned, deputies said. The couple said they immediately called 911.
In August, authorities received the results of an autopsy report, which found that Miya’s stomach contents tested positive for fentanyl. A medical examiner determined that the 2-year-old died of fentanyl toxicity, officials said.
Deputies said Davis and Tierney were responsible for Miya’s death “based upon their having brought her to a known drug location and by failing to protect her from fentanyl present at this location.”
During an investigation, Detective John Lightle determined that Davis sold fentanyl and that Tierney used the powerful narcotic.
“The senseless death of this innocent child is the ultimate tragedy, and it should serve as a reminder of why we must continue our fight to keep opiates out of our communities,” Sheriff Billy Woods said Wednesday in a statement.
“Everybody should know that if you or somebody you know uses drugs and wants to get clean, our community has resources available to help you. But let me be perfectly clear, if you are using drugs or selling drugs, and if somebody overdoses or dies as a result, me and my deputies will do everything we can to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Authorities said that Davis was being held Thursday on no bond in Lake County Jail on charges including murder related to her alleged fentanyl distribution, possession of fentanyl and possession of methamphetamine. Tierney is being held without bond in Marion County Jail for charges of tampering with a witness in a capital felony proceeding and aggravated assault, officials said.
Fentanyl can be as many as 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Earlier this year, the agency warned that as little as two milligrams of the opioid -- a dose small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil -- can be lethal.
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