Nev. mom sentenced to prison in girl’s drug death
RENO (AP) – A Sparks mother who took prescribed methadone to fight a heroin addiction was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for the death of her young daughter, who ingested the powerful medication.
Tracie Schuler, 43, will have to serve 10 years before she is eligible for parole under the sentence handed down by Washoe District Judge Steven Kosach, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
Schuler told the court, “I love my daughter very much and never did anything to hurt her.”
The father of 3-year-old Jessika Haberle found the child not breathing after she had been put down for a nap on Feb. 23, 2009. The little girl died at a hospital.
Toxicology tests showed she had in her system more than nine times the amount of the drug that would kill an adult. Experts also testified that, based on the girl’s hair analysis, she had twice ingested methadone months before her death.
A Washoe County jury in October convicted Schuler of second-degree murder.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Greco said Schuler was warned several times by medical professionals that the medications need to be locked away, and out of the reach of children. Warning labels are also on the bottles.
Schuler’s attorney, Jennifer Lunt, described the case as tragic. She said Schuler was using methadone for so long because she feared heroin’s hold on her, and that she was self-medicating an undiagnosed mental illness.
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com