Sunday 18 March 2018

Two-year-old girl died in car as mother took drugs in front seat

Deanna Joseph
Deanna Joseph

Lydia Smith

A toddler fatally injured herself while her mother took drugs in the front seat, prosecutors in New Jersey have alleged.

Deanna Joseph, 39, was in the front of the vehicle as her two-year-old daughter sat in a car seat in the back.

"It appeared the child was confined in a car seat for an extended period of time while the mother was under the influence of drugs, and may have injured herself in the car seat," Salem County Prosecutor John T Lenahan said.

After noticing her daughter was unresponsive, she called for an ambulance.

Officers found the child in the car with the engine still running, Mr Lenahan said.

The exact cause of death is yet to be determined.

Ms Joseph has been charged with second-degree child endangerment and will stand trial at Superior court in Salem.

She could face a 10-year prison sentence if convicted.

Ms Joseph was arrested in 2014 after being found unresponsive in an apartment while her infant son bathed in water nearby. She was sentenced to a year in prison.

She was also arrested in 2008 after her children aged two and 11 were found alone at home, according to a Burlington County Times report at the time.

The children were found in the house after police discovered Ms Joseph on drugs in a car park.

She was convicted of cruelty and child neglect and sentenced to five years probation. The children were taken into temporary state custody.

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