Omaha woman appears in court for 4-year-old son’s fentanyl death
Douglas County authorities urge people to be vigilant
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Paris Hunt, 21, allegedly purchased a light blue pill with “M” and “30″ printed on it. She told officials she left it on the nightstand in her bedroom.
Officials say that blue pill is a commonly known counterfeit drug laced with fentanyl. Hunt told police she thought it was Percocet.
“Nobody should take anything and assume what it is. We’ve had overdose deaths from fentanyl where people thought they were doing cocaine. We’ve had the Percocet example now a couple times,” said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine.
According to Kleine, also in 2022, a 17-year-old from Elkhorn died from what was supposed to be Percocet. It was oxycodone laced with fentanyl.
In this case, Hunt says she left half a pill on her nightstand. Her four-year-old son, Phoenix, who was asking for candy earlier that day, was later found unresponsive in their bedroom in March. He died five days later.
“Bloodwork taken from the victim that day reveled fentanyl. Testing of the residue found on the pill bottle cap taken from the defendant’s nightstand revealed fentanyl,” said a state attorney during Hunt’s appearance in court Monday.
She’s charged with negligent child abuse resulting in death, a Class 2A felony.
Monday in court, bond was set. The judge originally put it at $25,000. The state objected.
“I would ask the court to reconsider just given that this was a hazardous drug that the child ingested,” said a county prosecutor. “The state would ask for $100,000.”
The judge reconsidered and set Hunt’s bond to $75,000.
Kleine says there’s ongoing work with the US Attorney to pursue the dealer in this case too.
“It’s a responsibility that goes up the chain,” Kleine said. “I mean, certainly we’ve charged the mom with a negligent child abuse resulting in a death from her negligence in her allowing this four-year-old to have access to this. But there’s also many other people who bear responsibility.”
He emphasized the growing problem. The number of fentanyl deaths in Douglas County from 2019 to 2021 rose 400%. It was nine in 2019 to 40 in 2021. Due to reporting protocols, the final numbers for 2022 are on a four-month delay, according to the CDC.
In 2022 the Omaha DEA, which covers fives surrounding states seized nearly 4.7 million lethal doses of fentanyl. Kleine and law enforcement urge people to not take anything off the streets or from social media.
Attacking the problem on multiple fronts, the Douglas County Sheriff weighed in on efforts to put a stop to fentanyl deaths.
“We need to up our game in disrupting fentanyl dealers, making sure our penalties are commensurate with the tragedy and the loss of life,” said Sheriff Aaron Hanson. “Drug use safe-zones, I am completely opposed to that. I will oppose that at all costs because I think what we need to do is help people get over their addictions. We need to help people get to a healthier lifestyle.”
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