On Aug. 26 a judge sentenced a Utah woman to prison for up to 30 years for killing her child with a dose of methadone.
Courtney Nicole Howell, 27, pleaded guilty in July to one second-degree felony count of manslaughter and one second-degree count of exposing a child to a controlled substance. The charges were dropped to second-degree from first-degree manslaughter in exchange for Howell's guilty plea.
Howell, who is from Layton, Utah, said she gave her 17-month-old daughter Jaslynn Mansfield methadone in hopes that it would help her get to sleep. She said she will regret that decision for the rest of her life.
"Trying to forgive myself is an endless battle I struggle with daily," she said, reported The Salt Lake Tribune. "I can't make up my wrong by giving my little girl back her life."
Howell told Judge David Hamilton she holds herself accountable and will learn from her mistakes, while spending the rest of her life working to raise awareness about child endangerment and drug abuse.
Howell's attorney, Todd Utzinger, asked the judge to sentence her to two concurrent terms, saying that she benefited from jail time and has overcome drug addiction. Hamilton sentenced her to two consecutive terms, noting that Howell was reckless in her own life and with her daughter's life.
Prosecutors argued that Howell was wrong for not telling hospital staff that the baby had methadone in her system, which is information that could have saved her life.
Hamilton gave Howell an opportunity to apologize to her own family. She told them she didn't expect them to forgive her, but that she wanted them to know how sorry she was.
The family seemed reluctant to believe her, as methadone has proven to be destructive and problematic within the family. Jaslynn's father died from a methadone overdose months before she was born.
According to an arrest warrant, Howell called 911 on March 14, 2014, when she noticed her daughter had stopped breathing. The infant died later at Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton.
An autopsy determined the cause of death was "acute methadone toxicity."
When police searched Howell's home, they found baby bottles in her bedroom. Lab tests showed one of the bottles contained methadone.