Alyssa Murch, 20, quietly started to cry as she listened to a judge explain the charges against her.
“Count one is aggravated unlawful furnishing of scheduled drugs, a Class B felony punishable with up to 10 years in prison; count two is domestic violence assault against a child less than six years old, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison; and count three is endangering the welfare of a child, a Class D misdemeanor punishable with up to 364 days in jail,” Judge Bruce Jordan said in court.
Police responded to Murch's home on Dec. 16 after they got reports her 7-month-old child was taken to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center unconscious after having ingested methamphetamine. Police say the child overdosed.
“At seven months old, there's not a lot of ways that can happen, and the investigation ultimately revealed it was delivered through breast milk,” Sgt. Wade Betters, Bangor Police Department spokesman said shortly after she was charged.
Murch originally faced only two charges.
“The state's added the count two, which is domestic violence assault against on a child under the age of six because ... if there is an impairment of bodily function, which there was in this case, then that is an assault,” said Suzanne Russell, an Assistant District Attorney for Penobscot County who is handling the case.
There are currently two cases in Philadelphia and California where drug-tainted breast milk has led to infant deaths and charges against their mothers.
“People are quick to just want to burn her at the stake, or whatever, and I just wanted to remind people that like everyone who is affected by this, especially the people who are doing these drugs -- they need help,” said Shannon Denbow, a local musician and advocate.
Murch was released on $1,000 unsecured bail. The judge also ordered that she not use or possess drugs or alcohol and she can not have contact with her infant unless under Department of Health and Human Services supervision.
Murch is scheduled to be in court next on April 9.