An autopsy commissioned following the death of 13-month-old Kayleigh Cassell at a Glens Falls home in February has revealed traces of drugs in her system.
According to the report, produced by Dr. Michael Sikirica, Kayleigh was found to have ingested cocaine and opiates prior to her death. However, Sikirica was not able to determine whether the drugs caused Kayleigh’s death. He is conducting a toxicology analysis in search of an answer to this question.
Depending on the outcome of Sikirica’s investigation, police could seek to press more severe charges against Rachel Ball and Joshua Bennett, the child’s mother and her boyfriend.
To date, the pair have only been charged with drug felonies.
“[Sikirica’s] analysis will contribute greatly to whether there will be any charges,” said Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan. “Nothing has been ruled out.”
The results of the autopsy are fueling the long-held belief of some family members that Kayleigh was given the drugs deliberately by Ball and Bennett to keep her quiet.
“We want to know, how did she get it?” Kayleigh’s aunt, June Terpening, said. “Was it an accident, or was it given to her intentionally?”
Ball and Bennett admitted that they did drugs the night before Kayleigh was found dead.
“We each did a line of coke and heroin mixed, then we lay down,” Ball told police. "The next morning ... I went in to check on Kayleigh. She was in the same exact position as the night before."
Concerns surrounding the circumstances of the baby’s death were heightened further with the revelation that Kayleigh had been unwell in the days prior to her death with bruises on her face. It was suggested that Bennett had grabbed her during an argument with Ball, causing the injuries.
Bennett is being held in Washington County jail on charges of selling and possessing narcotics, while Ball was released on bail.