CRIME
08/29/2015 10:16 am ET

Utah Woman Sentenced To 30 Years For Killing Baby With Methadone

Courtney Howell sad she spiked her girl's bottle with the drug to help her sleep.
Police handout

A Utah woman who admitted giving her 17-month-old daughter a lethal dose of methadone was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday.

Courtney Howell, 27, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and exposing a child to a controlled substance, both felonies. Her defense attorney said that Howell, who had a prescription for methadone, put the drug in her daughter's bottle so that she would fall asleep. 

Howell was sentenced to serve two consecutive 15-year prison terms.

The child died in March 2014 from what an autopsy determined to be acute methadone toxicity. Investigators found traces of the drug -- a painkiller sometimes used to treat heroin addiction -- in baby bottles in Howell's home months after the death of her child, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. She was charged with the baby's death in October 2014. 

Her defense attorney said that Howell has struggled with drug addiction.

Howell admitted to poisoning her daughter in July. She broke down speaking in court at her sentencing Wednesday, tearfully pleading for leniency and vowing to "take every opportunity given to me to help change myself and my life."

"Trying to forgive myself is an endless battle I struggle with daily," Howell said in court. "I can't make up my wrong by giving my little girl back her life."

However, Judge David Hamilton said that Howell had been reckless in her life choices, pointing out that her baby had been born addicted to methadone.

"The child didn't have a chance," Hamilton said.  

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