West End mother sentenced for baby's drug death


    Judge Jody Luebbers sentenced Jessica Hayes to five years in prison. 6-month-old Danielle died after ingesting Hayes' drugs (WKRC)

    CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A mother, whose baby died from ingesting her drugs, was sentenced to five years in prison. Jessica Hayes had pleaded guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge.

    Six-month-old Danielle Hale was found dead at Hayes home on Poplar Street on March 1.

    Assistant prosecutor Seth Tieger said Hayes told police she had no idea how her baby died. An autopsy showed no signs of injury. Then, months later the toxicology report came back. Danielle had died from a lethal dose of fentanyl.

    Hayes cried through her sentencing. She told Judge Jody Luebbers that she's taken full responsibility for her actions. "I'm just very sorry for the mistakes I made with my addiction."

    Tieger said, "There's nobody here for the baby. Cincinnati police homicide squad is here. They're very involved in this case and this has affected even the homicide detectives a lot in terms of seeing a dead baby and seeing what this does but there's no dad, there's no family, there's nobody to really speak up for this child."

    Judge Luebbers asked Hayes how Danielle got a hold of her drugs but she didn't have an answer. The judge said after losing custody of two other children and completing drug treatment, how it was that Hayes fell back into drugs? "I don't know why I was so stupid," said Hayes.

    Hayes attorney asked for a 10 day stay from going to prison so that she could complete a drug treatment program. Tieger wanted her taken into custody immediately, which is what happened. The sentence was agreed upon as part of the plea deal.

    "Anyone who doesn't think we have a drug problem in this county, this state, this country, is living under a rock because this is a perfect example of an innocent baby dying at the hands of a drug user," said Judge Luebbers. "It's so sad."

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