On Sept. 29, a Baltimore, Maryland, grandmother, Towanda Reaves, 51, was sentenced to 40 years behind bars in the “murder of one grandchild and the abuse of another after administering methadone to them,” according to WBAL-TV in Baltimore. Reaves was charged with murder on Aug. 2, 2013, after rubbing methadone on the gums of her grandchildren, a 16-month-old girl and 19-month-old boy, so they’d go to sleep. The little boy died of methadone intoxication, according to the final report from the medical examiner. The baby girl survived the abuse, but just barely.
The judge overseeing the sentencing said that Reaves administered the methadone so the babies would go to sleep, allowing Reaves to get to a party, according to The Baltimore Sun. The grandma told the judge she didn’t intend to kill her grandson.
The story dates back to July 5, 2013 when Reaves dialed 911 after getting out of bed around 4 a.m. to turn off her air conditioning, but noticed that her grandson wasn’t breathing. Upon their arrival, police and paramedics discovered that both of the children were unresponsive. Less than one hour after first responders arrived at Reaves’ apartment, 19-month-old Aadyn Overton had died. “Prosecutors said his sister needed multiple doses of Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of other drugs, to survive.”
Reaves told investigators that she put both of her grandchildren to sleep around 8 p.m. and then didn’t check on them again until around 2 a.m. Between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., the grandmother went to a party.
Although Reaves initially confessed to rubbing methadone on her grandchildren’s gums, she later denied doing so once her murder trial began. The evidence against her was overwhelming though, with both children testing positive for methadone.
Prosecutors in the case against Reaves pointed to a long history of drug abuse, dating back at least nine years prior to her rubbing methadone on her grandchildren’s gums in 2013. Prosecutors also brought up her history of working as a prostitute. The judge said that on the night she rubbed methadone on the children’s gums, Reaves “seemed more interested in attending a party than tending to the children’s welfare.”
“This is not the intentional killing of her grandson, but those who think this was some form of tragic accident misunderstand the case, and misunderstand the jury’s analysis of it,” said Baltimore Circuit Judge Timothy Doory.
“This is murder.”
Ultimately, Reaves was convicted by a Baltimore City jury of second-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, first-degree child abuse and two counts of second-degree child abuse. Her 40 year prison sentence consists of two concurrent sentences of 30 years each for second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. She received an additional 10 years in prison on the child abuse charge for the grandchild that survived.