A woman who admitted she snorted ground-up pills and overdosed, smothering her infant grandson in the process, was sentenced to 22 years in prison Friday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.
Mary Elizabeth Evans, 41, of Panama City, entered an open plea to Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child in the June 6, 2021, death of her 9-week-old grandson. An open plea meant the defendant was admitting her guilt and allowing Circuit Court Judge Dustin Stephenson – after hearing arguments from the defense and the prosecutor – to decide the sentence.
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Prosecutor Peter Overstreet, citing the facts of the case, the desires of the paternal side of the family, and the need for consequences for those abusing illegal narcotics, asked for the maximum sentence of 30 years. The facts were not in dispute: the defendant snorted Fentanyl from a ground-up pill, agreed to watch her 9-week-old grandson, then overdosed and collapsed on the infant, smothering him to death.
After testimony from the defendant and a few of her children, Overstreet questioned, as did Circuit Court Judge Dustin Stephenson, why there was very little said about the victim during the statements.
“There were a lot of wonderful things said about the defendant, and they may be true, but the sad dichotomy is that there wasn’t a lot of talk about the child,” Overstreet said to Stephenson. “I found it kind of heartbreaking … because (the victim) deserved a life and that was taken away because of her choices, and those choices have consequences.
“I think that above all else, that child deserves for every bit of time taken away from him to be put into the bank on the defendant’s sentence.”
The defense sought a departure sentence below the guideline minimum of about 13 years, saying the defendant cooperated with authorities after the death and showed remorse.
Stephenson ordered a 22-year prison sentence.
“Your choices have stolen the future of this child,” he said. “Nothing that I do today will change that, but the time you serve in prison will approximate the life this child would have had before he became an adult.”
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