Babysitter charged in toddler's methadone poisoning death

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Reginal Brown

A North Lawndale man was ordered held in lieu of $350,000 bail Tuesday on charges of endangering the life of a 2-year-old boy who died from methadone poisoning while under his care.

Reginal Z. Brown was babysitting Mickel Brown in his first-floor apartment when the toddler ingested the synthetic opioid, which is commonly used as a painkiller and to treat narcotic addiction, authorities said.

Brown had a previous relationship with Mickel’s mother and babysat him occasionally, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Barry Quinn said.

Mickel’s mother had dropped the boy off at Brown’s residence three days before he died, Quinn said.

The night before Mickel’s death on June 18, Brown’s girlfriend — a heroin user — slept over and left the cup of methadone she had been drinking in the room she stayed in with Brown and the child, Quinn said.

In the morning at 9 a.m., Brown, 36, saw Mickel take the cup from the windowsill and put it to his lips.

But instead of taking the cup away, he allegedly left Mickel in the room and went back to the kitchen in the apartment, in the 1400 block of South Kedvale Avenue.

Around that time frame, two other people who were at the apartment had heard a slap and saw Brown take Mickel to the bedroom for spilling his cereal, Quinn said.

Fifteen minutes later, the toddler crawled out of the bedroom and then slumped against the washing machine, Quinn said.

When one of the guests noticed the child was limp and extremely sleepy, Brown said the boy was “faking it” and took him back to the bedroom, Quinn said.

Hours later at 4 p.m., Brown called 911 and attempted CPR on Mickel, Quinn said.

By this time, his guests had left, but three relatives had stopped by to see their bedridden uncle who also lived in Brown’s apartment.

When the trio saw the ambulance arrive after they had been there for 15 to 20 minutes, they asked Brown why he didn’t tell them Mickel was there, Quinn said.

They also asked him why he hadn’t yelled for help while tending to the child, Quinn said.

Mickel was taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy determined Mickel died of methadone toxicity and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services initially launched an investigation into allegations of abuse and neglect at the time of Mickel’s death, authorities said.

Contributing: Michael Lansu

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