Mom in baby overdose case asks for autopsy pics to be banned

By Joe Gorman


A woman charged in her infant daughter’s death from an opiate overdose asked a judge to keep jurors from seeing autopsy photos of the child at her upcoming trial.

Through her attorney Jennifer Ciccone, Sara Loth, 32, is asking Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to omit the photographs in her trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and child endangering in the July overdose of her 16-month-old daughter, Isabelle.

The child’s father, Joshua Essad, 33, faces the same charges. The two have a pretrial hearing scheduled today before Judge Krichbaum. Court records also show a Monday trial date.

The county coroner’s office ruled in December the child died of “carfentanil toxicity.” Carfentanil is a synthetic opiate more powerful than heroin.

In her motion Tuesday, Ciccone wrote the jurors can view the photos if they are useful to proving something or backing up a point of evidence.

The motion states the photos of the child would not show jurors evidence she died of a drug overdose because that is not readily apparent in a photograph. Their only purpose, the motion said, is to inflame jurors against her client.

That, in turn, jeopardizes Loth’s right to a fair trial because jurors would be making a decision based on emotion rather than on the evidence.

A court document says the couple has a history of drug use, and that Essad had to be revived twice in 2017 with the opiate antidote naloxone.

The document says the two had carfentanil in their home and the child had access to it. No mention is made of where the drug may have been, however, or how the child may have come into contact with the drug.

Police were called after the child was taken by ambulance from her West Side home on Burbank Avenue to a hospital, where she died. Investigators searched the home but found no evidence of any drugs inside. The coroner’s report came out in December listing the cause of death, and a grand jury indicted the couple Feb. 22.

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