A Pennsylvania mother and daughter are facing a host of serious charges after being caught shooting up heroin in a Sheetz parking lot in Westmoreland County. Police allege that earlier this month, 23 year old Courtney Jording was injecting heroin into the arm of her 43 year old mother, Karen Gillespie, while Ms. Jording's neglected, six-month old baby sat in a wet diaper in the backseat of the car. By pure chance, an employee of the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau saw what was going on and called police.
The child's mother and grandmother were arrested and taken to jail when they were unable to post bail, while the child was placed with his paternal grandparents. A search of the vehicle revealed 41 bags of heroin and 16 empty bags. Apparently, the police also discovered evidence on one or more cell phones in the car, as the two are also charged with criminal use of a communications facility, generally abbreviated as CUCF. This offense is a third degree felony, and entails setting up a drug delivery through a communications device, such as a cell phone.
If the police had merely found 41 bags of heroin with no other evidence, it would have been a major stretch to charge possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, which is usually abbreviated as PWID. Two addicts could easily go through 41 bags of heroin in a short period of time, especially if the heroin is low quality and heavily cut with other substances. PWID of heroin is an ungraded felony with a maximum sentence of 7.5 to 15 years in state prison and a $250,000 for a first offense. The maximum sentence is 15 to 30 years if a person has a prior felony drug conviction.
Endangering the welfare of a child, usually abbreviated EWOC and pronounced just like the bear-like inhabitants of Endor, is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 2.5 to five years of incarceration and a $10,000 fine. It is one of those many crimes with a self-explanatory name, as it entails endangering the welfare of a child by violating a duty of care. If the violation of the duty of care is a single, isolated incident, it is a first degree misdemeanor, while it is third degree felony if the endangerment involves a course of conduct over an extended period of time.
This incident underscores just how powerful opiate addiction is. It is powerful enough to overcome the most basic mammalian instinct for both a mother and grandmother to care for their offspring. Fortunately, the baby was rescued, but hopefully he does not have any long-term effects from possible prenatal opiate ingestion or neglect during a crucial phase of infant development. Likewise, we can only hope that the cycle of addiction and bad parenting is broken, and that this baby does not grow up to be an addict himself.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania. A large portion of his practice focuses on defense of drug offenses from small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia all the way up to delivery of heroin. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/Drug-Possession.shtml