By Ed Runyan
A jury Thursday found Carlisa Davis, 19, guilty of two counts of felony child endangering – convictions that could produce as much as six years in prison.
The trial took place in the courtroom of Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. Davis cried at hearing the decision and was taken to the Trumbull County jail to await sentencing.
No sentencing date has been set. The jury deliberated a little more than an hour.
The charges were filed after police determined that her two children, age 21 months and 9 months, had ingested opiates Feb. 2 at the Randolph Street Northwest home where Davis and her children were living with Davis’ mother and her brothers.
Both children were revived at ValleyCare Trumbull Memorial Hospital using the opiate reversal drug naloxone.
An emergency room doctor and a toxicologist at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron both diagnosed the children as having become unresponsive because of opiate ingestion. Davis admitted to police that her brother and his friends sold drugs out of the home.
Davis said she took a nap the morning the children became ill, and when she awoke, her brother told her the older child had consumed heroin and was unresponsive. The other child later experienced the same effects.
Davis was one of several defense witnesses to testify Thursday.
She was working nearly full time at the time of the incident and was trying to get her own apartment. She had been a cheerleader when she attended Warren G. Harding High School when she was younger, she said.
On Wednesday, jurors watched the videotaped interview she gave to police the day the children became ill, in which she admitted that she knew her brother and his friends had been dealing drugs out of her mom’s house.
Davis said two of her brothers were home with her that morning when she returned from taking her mother to work. Davis, then seven months pregnant, took a nap. When she awoke the second time, one of her brothers told her the older child, 21 months, had gotten into some heroin. The other child, 9 months, also later became unconscious.
Davis’ mother, Lisa Davis, also testified, saying she had observed indications that her sons were selling drugs out of the Randolph Street home. “If I ever saw it, I told them to get rid of it,” Lisa Davis said of illegal drugs.
Carlisa Davis’s attorney, Michael Scala, would later say in closing arguments that Carlisa was “doing the best anyone could under the circumstances,” which included being a young mother without a high school education working at McDonald’s.
“She’s trying to get out of these circumstances,” Scala said of trying to get her own apartment through the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority, which provides housing to low-income people.
Carlisa Davis applied for public housing Oct. 29, 2015, three weeks after she was eligible. She was not eligible to get her own apartment until she turned 18 on Oct.10, 2015, she said.
Diane Barber, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, told jurors the charges accuse her of violating a duty of care, protection or support to the two children. Carlisa now has a third child, born in May. She has a case plan through Trumbull County Children Services, which took custody of the two children after they left the hospital.
“Any reasonable caregiver would understand that packaging drugs in a child’s environment places the child in significant risk for serious physical harm by way of an accidental ingestion,” Barber said. “She made no effort to separate her kids from that area,” Barber said of the kitchen table, where Carlisa Davis told police the drugs were handled. There were other places in the home where she and the children could have gone besides the kitchen area, Barber said.
The young mother also showed indifference to her children’s safety by not telling hospital officials that illicit drugs were in the house, causing their treatment to be delayed for as much as 30 minutes, Barber said.
“Everybody is scrambling, trying to figure out what was wrong with the kids,” Barber said of hospital personnel. “The whole time, she’s not telling anybody about it,” Barber said.