An East Stroudsburg woman is charged with giving a 4-year-old girl she was raising an oxycodone dose that proved fatal in May.
A cooperative Mary Winbush, 57, turned herself in and was arraigned Tuesday on charges including “drug delivery resulting in death,” “involuntary manslaughter” and “endangering a child’s welfare.” Looking sad and tired and sounding laryngitic, Winbush sat quietly in Stroudsburg District Court as Judge Kristina Anzini read through the list of charges and police affidavit.
Winbush in May was living on North Second Street in Stroudsburg with her grandchildren and a 4-year-old girl, the affidavit states. The girl’s mother had given her at 3 weeks old to Winbush to raise, said Stroud Area Regional Police Detective Richard Wolbert.
At 9:37 a.m. May 6, Winbush called 911 and said she couldn’t wake the unconscious girl. When asked if the girl was breathing, Winbush said, “I think so.”
Ambulance crews arrived to find the girl unresponsive with rigor mortis setting in, indicating she was dead. The Monroe County coroner was called to the scene and confirmed the girl had been dead for some time.
The girl was found well-nourished and of normal size for her age, with no signs of any injury or physical trauma.
Winbush told police the girl had been sick for several days, the affidavit states. She said she had been giving the girl over-the-counter medicine and that the girl had seemed to be getting better.
Winbush, who uses medication herself and has been disabled and unemployed since 2006, said she had given the girl three doses of amoxicillin borrowed from a neighbor over the weekend.
Police and the coroner inspected the girl’s bed, which Winbush said she had shared with the girl ever since the girl was a baby. It appeared the girl had thrown up and may have wet the bed at some point, but there were no signs of violence there or elsewhere in the house.
A sippy bottle, with what appeared to be milk on the floor, was found near the top of the bed, along with over-the-counter children’s liquid medicine bottles atop the dresser.
During an interview later that day, Winbush told police the girl had been sick for several days, with a fever of 101 degrees at the start. She said she had given the girl PediaCare and amoxicillin and that the girl had appeared to be getting better.
Winbush said the girl went to bed at her usual time, about 9 or 9:30 the night before. She said she herself woke about 5 the next morning and didn’t notice anything wrong when getting the other children in the house off to school, prior to going back to bed.
Winbush said a friend called her four hours later, at 9 a.m., to go shopping. She said she got up to get ready and found the girl still asleep and unresponsive.
She said she took the girl to the bathroom, undressed her and splashed water on her. She called 911 when the girl still didn’t respond.
An autopsy the next day, May 7, showed no signs of physical force or trauma. A May 20 toxicology report revealed a lethal level of the painkiller, oxycodone, in her blood, after which the cause of her death was determined as “oxycodone toxicity.”
That afternoon, police executed a search warrant at the house. Upon being told why police were there, Winbush said she had to get the other children out of the house, the affidavit states.
She went upstairs, with police following behind her, entered her bedroom and went to the closet. She removed two pill bottles from the closet shelf and put them in her right rear jeans pocket.
Police had her hand over the pills, which turned out to be 30-milligram oxycodone pills of the same type and dose found in the girl’s blood. With no other children in the house at the time, police believe Winbush had used having to get children out of the house as an excuse to try hiding the pills.
Winbush pulled out a zipper bag with additional child-proof bottles, each containing a mixture of oxycodone, Methadone, Xanax and Buprenorphine pills. The toxicology report states oxycodone is not a regular course of treatment for a 4-year-old and that the girl lived only a few hours after ingesting the painkiller.
In front of an investigative grand jury June 24, Winbush admitted under oath that she had no valid prescription for any of the medications found in her possession, that she had known she wasn’t supposed to mix different medications together in the same bottle and that she had gotten the medications from friends. The autopsy revealed the girl had not been getting better despite being given the medications, which contradicts what Winbush said.
Winbush admitted under oath that she was still getting bills from taking the girl to the doctor for bronchitis in the past. She admitted she still had no medical insurance for the girl, who was behind on her shots.
When asked if the oxycodone could have been crushed up, put into a drink and fed to the girl, Winbush said, “Yeah, but that didn’t happen,” the affidavit states. She said she had no reason to put anything in the girl’s drink.
This testimony was confirmed by no medication being found in the fluid of the sippy cup that had been found by the girl’s bed.
Winbush admitted she was the only one in the house who had access to the medications and knew where they were, which leads police to believe she was the one who gave the girl oxycodone.
Winbush was released on unsecured bail and ordered to have no contact whatsoever with anyone under age 18 while her case is pending. She will appear in district court at a future date for a preliminary hearing to determine if any of the charges should be sent on to trial in Monroe County Court.