CONCORD, N.H. — The parents of a 21-month-old New Hampshire girl who died after ingesting fentanyl have been accused of negligent homicide and other charges, with a prosecutor saying Wednesday that the father stopped to take a cigarette break in the middle of doing CPR on his daughter at a truck stop.
The couple “acted with complete indifference to the value of their daughter’s life at every step of the way” on Nov. 16, prosecutor Kristin Vartanian said, such as failing to call 911 and disposing of a book that was used as a surface to cut drugs, and a child’s vest. Witnesses who saw them at the Londonderry truck stop eventually called for help, Vartanian said.
Lawyers entered not guilty pleas for Mark Geremia, 32, and Shawna Cote, 29. Judge David Ruoff ordered them detained until trial, saying they were a danger to the community and ordered them not to have contact with their other children, including a boy that Cote gave birth to a few weeks ago, and a nearly 5-year-old daughter.
According to a police affidavit, a friend who was in the vehicle with them said Geremia had traded an ATV for heroin in Massachusetts. He said both daughters were in the vehicle while all three adults used heroin and eventually fell asleep at the truck stop. The friend said he woke up to Geremia yelling “she’s dead.” The friend said he had an opioid-overdose antidote and that he and Cote tried to give it to the daughter. He said Cote eventually got out of the vehicle with her other daughter and walked away.
A witness said Geremia stopped performing CPR on his child, who was unresponsive, to smoke a cigarette.
Geremia and Cote said there were no drugs in the vehicle, according to the affidavit. Geremia said he didn’t call 911 because he didn’t know where his phone was, but police noted his phone was ringing multiple times from his pocket as they spoke to him.
Vartanian said Cote’s record includes a pending theft case, not showing up for a court date, and prior cases of forgery, drunken driving and endangering the welfare of a child. Geremia has pending cases involving stolen firearms.
Cote said at the hearing that she has been involved in drug treatment recovery efforts and was preparing to enter a six-month residential substance abuse program.
“I am working very hard to move forward with my life,” Cote said, adding she wants to be around for her kids. “They mean more than anything to me. If I am in here, I cannot move forward and do the things that I need to do that I have been doing since, um, the incident.”
In ordering Cote to be detained, Ruoff said based on his review of the court record, she “displays significant sociopathic tendencies, and a high level of criminogenic thinking.” He also said her conduct could be described as “depraved.”
He added, “I’m not convinced that whatever she’s done since, as she describes, ‘the incident’ — which is actually the death of her own daughter — two months ago is sufficient to satisfy my concerns.”
Geremia and Cote, both arrested Tuesday, also were charged with manslaughter; reckless conduct with a deadly weapon; falsifying physical evidence; receiving stolen property; conspiracy to commit falsifying physical evidence; and endangering the welfare of a child.
Geremia also was charged with three counts of possessing child sex abuse images showing his daughters asleep and naked. The images were focused on the girls’ genitals, the affidavit said.
Kathy McCormack, The Associated Press