The Albany woman arrested for giving her infant a nearly fatal dose of methadone was sentenced to 40 months in prison in Benton County Circuit Court Friday morning.
Magan Michelle McDermott, 34, pleaded guilty to charges of causing another to ingest a controlled substance and assault in the third degree. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped charges of delivery of methadone to a minor and applying a schedule I/II controlled substance to the body of a minor.
Prosecutor Matt Ipson said McDermott gave her infant methadone to get him to sleep. The infant, at the time of the November incident around 4 months old, then stopped breathing, Ipson said. Ipson said McDermott fled from the North Albany home where the incident occurred before first responders arrived. She later texted her sister that she had given the baby methadone. McDermott's sister then told the first responders who had been struggling to get the infant breathing and they then gave him the overdose medication naloxone. The infant started breathing and was transported to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, where he was given naloxone intravenously.
“He was lucky to survive this night,” said Ipson. “It was a reckless act providing him with methadone.”
Marc Spence, an attorney representing the victim, said the incident was the third time the infant was hospitalized because of methadone exposure.
Spence added that the full impact of methadone exposure on the child won't be fully known for years, but the child is now about six to eight weeks behind on developmental milestones.
John Rich, McDermott’s attorney, said his client gave the baby methadone because she thought she saw him exhibiting withdrawal symptoms.
“My client didn’t have any evil intent. She was on a methadone program and the child was born methadone-dependent,” he said.
Rich said the child got methadone through breast milk and his client supplemented that with methadone in formula. He said the incident was an example of a case in which tolerances for opiates change when someone hasn’t had them for a while.
“She is accepting responsibility for what she did,” he said. “It’s a situation that is tragic and it could have been much worse.”
Judge Locke Williams said the case was more than tragic.
“You may not have intended to kill your child … but giving the infant methadone was extremely reckless,” he said to McDermott.
Williams said he would accept the plea agreement reached in the case.
“I think you’re getting an extremely good deal in this case,” he told McDermott. “In my opinion you deserve much more time in jail.”
He said he hoped McDermott would take the time in prison to address the core issues that caused her addiction.
“You are a poisonous person. You are not fit for motherhood, at this point.”
McDermott said in the hearing that she was looking at prison as an opportunity to change.