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9-Year-Old's Cocaine Overdose Investigated As Homicide

Police in Ohio are investigating a 9-year-old boy's death as a possible homicide after an autopsy determined the level of cocaine in his system was "off the charts."

Marcus Lee Jr. died on Dec. 26, 2016. He had been rushed to the hospital after experiencing seizures and breathing problems, but doctors were unable to save him, WKBN reports.

Youngstown police considered Marcus' death suspicious. Preliminary tests suggested that he had amphetamines or another type of stimulant in his system, but investigators had to wait five months for a conclusive toxicology report from the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office.

The report concluded that Marcus had extremely high levels of cocaine in his system when he died.

"[The autopsy] revealed that he had died from acute cocaine toxicity and the test results were off the charts, according to the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office," Youngstown Police Lt. Doug Bobovnyik said.

"It appears he ingested it orally," he added, according to WFMJ. "There was cocaine found in his stomach."

Police are now investigating the child's death as a homicide. They intend to present the case to a grand jury to determine whether there is enough evidence to file criminal charges.

"The coroner has ruled the case a homicide because of the toxicology report, so it is a very big piece of information and evidence from the coroner’s office," Bobovnyik said, according to WKBN.

Police say they were not called to the scene until several hours after Marcus died. There was no cocaine found in the house at that time.

Investigators have interviewed the boy's mother, as well as her boyfriend and a family friend. The mother has since hired an attorney.

The boy's father, Marcus Lee Sr., said he was initially lied to about the cause of his son's death.

"I was angry," he told WFMJ. "It was told to me it was a seizure or a defect, something that was unstoppable. Nobody was told the truth. I wasn't told the truth."

He is now demanding justice for his son.

"I want everybody to suffer that had something to do with it," he said.

Marcus Sr.'s wife, Lakeshia Lee, indicated they will continue speaking out until they have closure.

"I'm not here to judge anybody because I'm not perfect," she said. "But I know that baby didn't deserve that and I know that baby shouldn't be there.  And we're not going to be quiet about it.  I know that much."

Sources: WKBN, WFMJ / Photo credit: Valerie Everett/Flickr

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