Florida parents charged after 2-year-old dies of fentanyl overdose

Authorities have charged two Florida parents in connection to their 2-year-old daughter’s fentanyl overdose death.

Marion County sheriff’s deputies on June 13 responded to reports of an unresponsive infant on Southeast Highway 42 in Umatilla, Florida, when they discovered the couple’s daughter, Miya, and immediately transported her to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

“For years, law enforcement has been battling the opioid epidemic here in Marion County, throughout the United States, and at our country’s borders,” Sheriff Billy Woods said in a Wednesday statement. “The senseless death of this innocent child is the ultimate tragedy, and it should serve as a reminder of why we must continue our fight to keep opiates out of our communities.”

Jalynn Nichole Davis, 36 (Marion County Sheriff)

Jalynn Nichole Davis, 36 (Marion County Sheriff)

A medical examiner in August determined Miya’s cause of death to be fentanyl toxicity after the 2-year-old’s stomach contents tested positive for the deadly drug.

Woods added: “Everybody should know that if you or somebody you know uses drugs and wants to get clean, our community has resources available to help you. But let me be perfectly clear, if you are using drugs or selling drugs, and if somebody overdoses or dies as a result, me and my deputies will do everything we can to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Officials have arrested and charged Joseph Tierney, 36, and Jalynn Nichole Davis, 36, with aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Joseph Tierney, 36 (Marion County Sheriff)

Joseph Tierney, 36 (Marion County Sheriff)

Major Crimes Detective John Lightle interviewed Tierney and Davis, who said Miya had been asleep in her bed for about 30 minutes the night of June 13 before they checked in on her again and found her unresponsive.

Lightle determined through his investigation that Davis sold fentanyl and Tierney was an active user of the drug. The detective determined that the pair were criminally responsible for their daughter’s death “based upon their having brought her to a known drug location and by failing to protect her from the fentanyl present at the location.”

Tierney was already serving jail time for tampering with a witness and aggravated assault. Davis is currently being held at a different jail for separate offenses, including murder “for a death caused by her unlawful distribution of fentanyl,” fentanyl possession, methamphetamine possession and drug paraphernalia possession. 

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