Mom gets probation in child’s overdose death


By Joe Gorman

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The mother of a boy who died the day after Christmas last year after ingesting a massive amount of cocaine at her home was sentenced Tuesday to five years’ probation.

Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court handed down the sentence to Raenell Allen, 39, on a count of child endangering for the death of her son, Marcus Lee, 9.

Police said the drugs belonged to Allen’s boyfriend, Kevin Gamble, 38, who had a prior drug-trafficking conviction and was sentenced to 41/2 years in prison last week by Judge Krichbaum for his role in the case.

The sentence for Allen was recommended by prosecutors and defense attorneys. Prosecutors recommended the sentence because Allen agreed to cooperate with them.

Investigators still do not know how Marcus got access to the cocaine, but the amount was so massive that he became violently ill almost immediately. He died at Akron Children’s Hospital Boardman Campus.

The pair were indicted after tests done for the autopsy showed that Marcus died of a cocaine overdose. Authorities also said that Marcus was autistic and suffered from a disorder where he would stuff things in his mouth that were not food.

Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa told Judge Krichbaum the reason her office offered the plea to Allen was because she agreed to testify against Gamble if needed.

Marcus Lee Sr., the father of Marcus, told the judge he never got to say goodbye to his son and was mystified as to why there was a possibility she would not go to jail. Judge Krichbaum said he was not entirely happy about the situation.

“I’m plenty unhappy about the situation involving her,” Judge Krichbaum said. “As the mother of that child, she’s responsible for his care and she knows that guy has drugs in her house.”

Defense attorney J. Gerald Ingram asked the judge to honor the sentencing recommendation. He said his client does not have a criminal record as an adult, she cares for two other children, was remorseful and that she did not allow Gamble to have drugs in the house.

Allen told Judge Krichbaum she had no idea there were drugs in her home.

“I did not know there was any type of drugs in that house whatsoever,” Allen said.

Judge Krichbaum asked Allen why she would be romantically involved with someone who had been involved with drugs in the past.

“You should have known this guy was no good. You knew that, didn’t you?” Judge Krichbaum asked.

“I thought he had changed, though.” Allen answered. “I gave him a chance. I loved my child.”

Judge Krichbaum said he was swayed to follow the recommendation by letters written to him on Allen’s behalf. Also, without her agreeing to cooperate, there would have been no case against Gamble. But the judge also said Allen deserves some of the blame for the death of her son.

“You certainly have some responsibility for what happened here because you let that creep in your home,” Judge Krichbaum said.

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