By Steve Pope | August 25, 2018
Pittsburgh police charged the mother in the death of her 17-month-old daughter after three separate lab tests confirmed the presence of fentanyl in the infant’s system, as well as a sippy cup that she drank from.
Jhenea Pratt, 23, of Pittsburgh, was charged Friday with criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the April 5 death of her daughter, Charlette Napper-Talley.
In a criminal complaint released Saturday, Pittsburgh police say they were called to Pratt’s apartment at 6:07 p.m. for a baby who wasn’t breathing. Immediately upon entering the residence police, “immediately detected the odor of marijuana,” and found the infant lying on the couch.
Her lips were a “light shade of blue and her skin was cold to the touch.” Police also observed dried blood on her face and immediately started CPR until paramedics arrived.
Pittsburgh police describe Pratt as being “very upset” about a broken coffee table, as police and paramedics worked to save her baby’s life.
Police allege in the complaint that Pratt became “extremely irate” and yelled out “that she did not want to be responsible for her baby’s death,” as paramedics and police attempted to determine if the infant was choking on something.
Despite police officers performing CPR and paramedics rushing the infant to a hospital, she was pronounced dead at 7:04 p.m. Three tests from two different laboratories confirmed that the infant died as a result of fentanyl poisoning, police say.
At the hospital police say Pratt was “hostile” and “combative” when detectives attempted to speak to her. Pratt walked away from one detective and “expressed frustration at being treated like a criminal after her child had passed away,” the complaint alleged.
Pratt’s boyfriend, Albert Williams, told police he was watching the infant while Pratt was attending a class at CCAC. Williams said he picked Pratt up around 2 p.m. and after making a few stops he brought them both to her apartment. Williams told police that he fed the infant some fish sticks and gave her a drink of juice using the sippy cup around noon.
Pratt told police that she gave her daughter the same sippy cup later that afternoon, but when asked if she put anything in the cup after Williams left Pratt said, “not to my knowledge, no.” Pratt said she found the cup in the house and gave it to her daughter, but was unable to tell police where in the house she found it.
Police said in the complaint that Pratt asked several times during questioning if she was under arrest and a detective told her that he just wanted to find out what happened that day.
When a detective asked Pratt to guess how the fentanyl may have gotten in the cup she said, “maybe the huggies [a bottled juice], because they tasted funny to her.”
Police say that if fentanyl was present in the cup earlier in the day when Mr. Williams first gave it to her, she would have died a short time later.
During the infant’s autopsy it was noted that “she appeared to be unkempt.” Also, the infant’s “feet were very dirty and her fingernails were extremely long (for a small child),” the complaint said.
Pratt is in the Allegheny County Jail after being denied bond and is scheduled for a Sept. 5 preliminary hearing.
Steve Pope can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org