PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: A Buck County woman pleaded no contest to poisoning her two-year-old son a year ago and was sentenced to 25 to 50 years on Tuesday, August 6.
Jennifer Clarey, 43, was charged with third-degree murder and child endangerment in connection with the death of the toddler, Mazikeen Curtis, in August 2018.
On August 25, 2018, Bucks County Children and Youth Services went to the defendant's house to conduct a welfare check.
Upon finding Clarey intoxicated and uncooperative, they called the police.
When deputies raided her home, they found the lifeless body of Curtis on the bed which was covered in blood.
Next to him was Clarey, bleeding from cuts to her wrists, Daily Mail reported.
Suspecting an overdose, the police searched her place and discovered trace amounts of oxycodone in the toddler’s sippy cup.
Along with that, they found an empty bottle of children's Benadryl, which previously held four ounces of medicine in a garbage can and an empty 120-tablet prescription bottle for Vicodin inside a locked box.
The latter had been prescribed to Clarey seven days earlier.
Charges were brought against the mother a month after the incident, following a toxicology report that revealed that the kid had died from oxycodone and diphenhydramine poisoning—the active ingredients in Vicodin and Benadryl.
Investigators stressed on the fact that the sippy cup had a child-proof lid, which meant that the content inside could only have been put there by an adult.
"You were there to protect this child, and instead, you were so reckless and thoughtless and selfish as to take this child's life before he ever had a chance to explore everything that life has to offer," Bucks County Court Judge Clyde W. Waite said, before handing down the verdict.
The wounds on her hand were determined to be self-inflicted.
Authorities believed that she might have attempted to commit suicide.
Dawn Dunlap, a resident living a few blocks away from the defendant's house, told ABC 6 News that she, along with another neighbor, decided to alert child welfare services. "Me and my other neighbor, we discussed it and said, 'You know what, this is something we have to do',' Dunlap said. "It wasn't something that I had ever seen before so for me to hear and see what I was seeing was just not her."
Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub explained why Clarey was charged with murder. "I believe it was certainly a killing with malice, which would make it murder," Weintraub said, adding Curtis had been dead "a number of hours" before police found him and his mother.
Clarey had been hospitalized for mental health treatment four times, the latest being shortly before her son's death.