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Parents Charged With Manslaughter After 2-Year-Old Daughter Dies From Fentanyl

Child ingested her parents’ powerful synthetic opioid, say police. 

A Florida couple whose 2-year-old daughter died after ingesting fentanyl are facing charges of aggravated manslaughter related to the child’s death.

Joseph Arthur Tierney, 36, and Jalynn Nichole Davis, 36, told detectives that their daughter, Miya, “had been asleep in a bed” and “that they left her alone in the bedroom for 30 minutes, and upon their return they found her unresponsive, at which time they called 911,” according to a report by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies responded to the home in Umatilla “in reference to a 2-year-old female who was unresponsive,” the sheriff’s office said. “Upon arrival, deputies and paramedics administered CPR to the victim, Miya Tierney. Miya was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced deceased.”

Autopsy results released in August determined Miya’s cause of death to be “fentanyl toxicity.”

Miya’s stomach contents tested positive for fentanyl.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Detective John Lightle, who was investigating the case, “revealed that Davis sold fentanyl and that Tierney was an active user of fentanyl. Based upon the investigation, probable cause was developed that Davis and Tierney were criminally responsible for Miya’s death based upon their having brought her to a known drug location and by failing to protect her from the fentanyl present at the location.”

Joseph Arthur Tierney (Marion County Sheriff’s Office/Zenger)

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States,” the institute says on its website.

At the time of Tierney’s arrest, he was already in the Marion County Jail on charges of tampering with a witness in a capital felony proceeding and aggravated assault, the sheriff’s office said. He is being held without bond

Davis is being held without bond in the Lake County Jail for separate alleged offenses committed in Lake County, including murder (for a death caused by her unlawful distribution of fentanyl), possession of fentanyl, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia, the sheriff’s office said.

When she is returned to Marion County, she will be served with the newly issued warrant for aggravated manslaughter, the sheriff’s office said.

“For years, law enforcement has been battling the opioid epidemic here in Marion County, throughout the United States, and at our country’s borders.,” said Sheriff Billy Woods. “The senseless death of this innocent child is the ultimate tragedy, and it should serve as a reminder of why we must continue our fight to keep opiates out of our communities.

“Everybody should know that if you or somebody you know uses drugs and wants to get clean, our community has resources available to help you. But let me be perfectly clear, if you are using drugs or selling drugs, and if somebody overdoses or dies as a result, me and my deputies will do everything we can to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Edited by Judith Isacoff and Kristen Butler

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