Couple accused of child’s OD death turn down pleas


By Joe Gorman

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Despite a plea from the gallery for her not to do it, the mother accused in the opiate overdose death of her daughter rejected a plea bargain for a four-year prison sentence Wednesday.

Sara Loth, 32, and the father of the child, Joshua Essad, both turned down offers in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of four years in prison in exchange for guilty pleas in the July overdose death of Isabelle Essad, 16 months, who a coroner’s report said died in July of “carfentanil toxicity.”

If the two are convicted in a trial expected to begin Monday, they could receive 14 years in prison on charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and child endangering.

That is the maximum sentence available.

Nevertheless, both Essad and Loth said they did not want to accept the offer by prosecutors. When Judge Krichbaum asked Loth’s attorney, Jennifer Ciccone, if her client understood what she was turning down, Loth answered for herself.

“Yes, I do [understand],” Loth said.

When Judge Krichbaum asked her if she wanted to change her mind, a man in the back was nodding yes frantically but Loth said she did not want to take the plea. A deputy then walked over to the man to warn him to keep calm in court.

“That’s her final decision, your honor,” Ciccone said of her client.

Carfentanil is a synthetic opiate several times more powerful than heroin.

Police were called after the child was taken by ambulance July 24 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.

A court document says the couple has a history of drug use.

A coroner’s report said Loth was undergoing suboxone treatments for heroin addiction when she was pregnant with the child, and she also smoked.

About 5:50 p.m. June 23, police were called to the 3000 block of Oakwood Avenue for a man face-down in a yard who turned out to be Essad. It took eight doses of naloxone to revive the man, reports said. At the time, Essad denied being an addict, although he noted he was on suboxone but could not tell the detective why, reports said.

About 7 p.m. Feb. 24, 2017, Essad was also found passed out on a sidewalk at Mahoning and North Osborne avenues on the West Side.

He again was revived with two doses of naloxone, reports said.

In 2013, both Essad and Loth were charged in Mahoning County Area Court in Boardman with a felony charge of deception to obtain drugs.

The charge was later reduced to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Both were found guilty after pleading no contest and sentenced to six months’ probation.

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.

After the hearing, Ciccone filed a motion asking Judge Krichbaum to suppress any mention of Loth’s history of drug abuse.

Ciccone wrote in the motion Loth’s history would not only prejudice jurors against her client, but also imply to them Loth was actually using drugs the day the child died or had the drugs around the child.

The couple have been in the county jail with no bond since they were arrested a few days after they were indicted.

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