PHILIPPI - A Belington couple accused of feeding their 23-month-old child methadone - the substance that allegedly caused the infant's death - entered guilty pleas in Barbour County Circuit Court Tuesday.
The toddler passed away after an alleged overdose of methadone on March 13, 2013. David Lee DeLauder, 38, and Ida Lee Evans, 32, each pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of child neglect resulting in death and one count of conspiracy.
Each could face a total of four to 20 years in prison. In exchange for their pleas, the state agreed to dismiss their indictments on one felony count each of death of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian by child abuse, returned by a Barbour County grand jury in October.
Before accepting their pleas, Judge Alan D. Moats asked to discuss the matter of the child's death with Delauder and Evans.
"Miss Evans, this says that on March 12 or 13, 2013, that you committed an offense of child neglect resulting in death by unlawfully and feloniously...Neglected (your child) in such a manner that she ingested methadone which caused her death," Moats said. "Tell me how she ingested methadone."
"I don't know," Evans said.
"When you tell me 'I don't know' that puts us both in a bind," Moats said. "How would she have gotten methadone?"
"Because me and my husband agreed to get methadone together and we brought it into the house," Evans said.
Moats asked Evans when she went to get the methadone.
"I think the 12th," Evans said. "It was the day before she died."
Moats asked Evans where she went to get the drugs, and Evans said she got them in Philippi from her friend Shauna, but told Moats she did "not know Shauna's last name." She then told Moats her husband "went with Shauna's husband to get the methadone."
Evans said she did not know how much methadone her husband got but that she was given five methadone pills that were 10 mg. each. She told Moats she injected all five pills.
"Well, if you ingested all of them, that means (the infant) could not have gotten any of the ones you had, correct?" Moats said. "So where did she get them? Did you give them to her? Did you ever give her any?"
Evans said no.
"How would she have gotten methadone then?" Moats said.
Evans answered by shrugging her shoulders.
"Well, shrugging your shoulders is not going to put methadone into a baby's mouth, or into her stomach or into her system," Moats said. "Shrugging your shoulders never hurt one person. This baby was one year 10 months old and she was born April 28, 2011. She would have been three years old next Monday."
"Yes," Evans said.
Moats asked if the infant was her biological daughter.
"Yes," Evans said.
"And so, on March 13, 2013 - a year, a month and nine days ago, this child dies and your only response to how methadone could get into her system is to shrug your shoulders?" Moats said.
"I don't know," Evans said.
"You don't know?" Moats said. "You haven't had time to reflect on that over the past year?"
"I don't know how she ingested it," Evans said.
Moats then questioned Delauder.
"Do you have any idea how this baby died?" Moats said.
"It was because of me and her (sic) negligence going up on that hill and getting methadone," Delauder said.
Delauder would not tell Moats who he got the methadone from or where they lived in Philippi. Delauder told Moats he got 20 methadone for $200, and admitted to buying methadone and hydrocodone there earlier.
"Are you a drug addict?" Moats asked Delauder.
"Yes, your honor," Delauder said. He told Moats that when he got the methadone, he had 10 pills and he gave Evans 10 pills.
Moats asked how the baby was exposed to methadone.
"She (Evans) give it a little something to sleep, your Honor," Delauder said.
"How do you know that?" Moats asked Delauder.
"Because she told me," Delauder said.
"When did she tell you that?" Moats asked Delauder.
"She told me that night," Delauder said. "She was in the kitchen and was crushing up some methadone and she jokingly said I ought to give her some. I told her if she did, I would kill her. And she goes I would never give my baby nothing like that. So she (the infant) had a cold and she was giving her Benadryl or Tylenol. When we went to bed I asked if she gave her any cold medicine and she told me she gave her something to sleep."
Once again, Moats asked the couple how the baby ingested the methadone.
"She had so much methadone in her system she died," Moats said. "Methadone is a narcotic. She was one year, 10 months old - 22 months old. You have no explanation as to how she got methadone."
A toxicology report, following the toddler's death, revealed that methadone, a Schedule II controlled substance, was present in the child's system and could have been the cause of her death, according to the criminal complaint on file at the Barbour County Magistrate Clerk's office.
Following the acceptance of the guilty pleas, Barbour County Prosecuting Attorney Leckta Poling asked that Delauder submit to a drug test. Moats revoked Delauder's bond and ordered that he and Evans be held without bond. Moats also ordered a pre-sentence investigation on them both.