Phoenix mother pleads guilty after toddler daughter dies from meth

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According to police, Natalie Russell initially told officers a container of methadone had spilled but before she could clean it up she thought her 5-year-old son or the victim could have consumed some of the medication.

PHOENIX — A Phoenix mother has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse in the 2016 death of her daughter, who had ingested meth.

Just before 7 a.m. on April 14, 2016, Phoenix police officers were called to the apartment homes near 19th Avenue and Dunlap in response to a child not breathing.

Paramedics worked to revive the child, Adalynn, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The preliminary investigation showed the victim lived in the home with her mother, then-30-year-old Natalie Renee Russell, and two brothers.

According to police, Natalie Russell initially told officers a container of methadone had spilled but before she could clean it up she thought her 5-year-old son or the victim could have consumed some of the medication.

The police report stated that Russell “recklessly left a 120 mg bottle of liquid methadone in reach of her children.”

Methadone is a drug used to prevent withdrawal symptoms in those addicted to opiates.

Police say Russell then changed her story to indicate at some time around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, Adalynn may have consumed methadone from an open container.

According to police, Russell “took no action to seek medical attention for the child.” Instead, police say she lay down with her daughter at around 1 a.m. and fell asleep. Another adult female in the home discovered the child not breathing at around 6:45 a.m. and emergency services were called.

A search warrant was served on the home and the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office responded. The Arizona Department of Child Safety was also called to the apartment and the other two children in the home were placed in their care.

As the investigation continued, Phoenix police homicide detectives learned Russell had actually researched methadone overdose information on the Internet. And, according to police, “She is alleged to have given the victim methamphetamines in an effort to counteract the ingestion of the methadone.”

The police report stated that “a witness reported Natalie told her that she was going to get methamphetamines to counter the effects of the methadone. The same witness observed Natalie administer the methamphetamines into the child’s rectum.”

Autopsy results showed Adalynn had toxic levels of methadone and methamphetamines in her system at the time of her death. The death was ruled a homicide.

On July 26, 2016, Phoenix police detectives located and arrested Russell.

Russell’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan 19, 2018, at 10:30 a.m.