Great-grandparents to be tried in baby's drug death
Taylor -- The great-grandparents of a Taylor infant who died after ingesting prescription drugs were ordered Monday to stand trial on manslaughter and child abuse charges.
Quentin May, 65, and his wife, Rebecca May, 52, were bound over for trial in the death of their 10-month-old great-grandson Du'Wan Langhan at the conclusion of a preliminary examination before Taylor District Judge Geno Salomone.
Du'Wan died in October after ingesting prescription drugs prescribed to Rebecca May.
Rebecca May allegedly told police that she dropped the pills in her bed but later told investigators, according to prosecutors, that she thought she had found the pills and in another account, that the pills had not been recovered.
The couple also told police that pills ended up scattered on the floor of their home after someone broke into their home and ransacked it.
The couple were were charged in late May with one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of second-degree child abuse. Du'Wan was found on the floor of the Mays' home on Wilkie Street about 3:24 p.m. Oct. 5.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Ben Deneweth said the couple were "grossly negligent" to allow the infant to crawl around the floor knowing there were pills "scattered everywhere."
Deneweth said while the case against Quentin May was "weaker" than that against his wife, the 65-year-old great-grandfather was still responsible because he knew that the pills had been scattered on the floor of the home.
Deneweth said while the case against Rebecca May is a "circumstantial" one, she was still "grossly negligent" to not take better care of the handling of the pills since she had custody of the child.
"This is a circumstantial case but the circumstances strongly indicate that Ms. May was in fact grossly negligent leaving the controlled substances accessible to little Du'Wan and that he did ingest them and die from them," said Deneweth.
Rebecca May's defense attorney, Shawn Patrick Smith, said he was "perplexed by the use of the phrase "gross negligence" in the case.
Smith said the family's home had been broken into and the pills had been scattered around the house during the break-in and that the child may have picked up the pills. Smith said the prosecutor did not put a child care expert on the witness stand to talk about the case.
""It's not gross negligence to have a pill get stuck (somewhere) or two pills or whatever the case might be," he said. "No witness came here and said they intentionally did anything. It's just a tragic accident."
But Salomone interjected, telling Smith: "I understand your arguments. We're talking about two different pills ... and both taken on the same day by a 10-month-old. That's my problem."
Quentin May's defense attorney, David Lankford, said the case against his client is "weak" and that the medications the infant ingested were not prescribed to his great-grandfather.
Deneweth said Quentin May had "knowledge" there were pills on the floor.
"You need to make sure there are no controlled substances on the floor," said the prosecutor. "If you are going to have your great-grandson over, you need to do more than just vacuum the floor. You need to make absolutely sure that there's no controlled substances on the floor to let the child crawl all over."
Lankford asked the judge to lower his client's bond, a request Salomone granted, reducing it from $250,000 to $50,000 cash, the same as his wife. Quentin May's bond was higher due to a prior felony record.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office determined that the infant died from ingesting drugs that were prescribed to the great-grandparents: Cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxer, and methadone. The medical examiner has ruled the death a homicide.
Methadone is an opioid that is used to treat pain and addiction to heroin or narcotic painkillers.
Assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner Dr. David Moons testified during the first part of the preliminary last month that the amount of methadone the child ingested would "most definitely" be fatal to an infant. Moons said he could not determine what amount of Cyclobenzaprine would be fatal to a young child because of a lack of literature on it.
Moons said he could not determine when the infant ingested the narcotics but that he had been told that the child may have taken medication found on a bed in the home.
The Mays allegedly "failed to store and/or maintain their medications in a safe manner," according to the prosecutor's office, which alleges the couple also failed to "provide a safe environment" for their great-grandson.
The couple were scheduled for an arraignment on information July 9 in Wayne County Circuit Court.