A COLD-hearted mum showed no emotion after being found guilty of killing her baby by giving her a sippy cup laced with fentanyl.
Prosecutors said Jhenea Pratt, 23, gave 17-month-old Charlette Napper-Talley the strong opioid painkiller so she could "relax and smoke marijuana".
The concoction was strong enough “to kill two horses”, said cops.
A pink beaker with a red liquid was discovered on Charlette's bed after officers found the baby unresponsive and not breathing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
After cops tried to resuscitate the toddler by performing CPR, the toddler was taken to hospital, where she later died on April 5 last year.
When authorities conducted tests, they found a lethal amount of fentanyl in Charlette’s blood and on the cup.
Her death was ruled a homicide due to fentanyl poisoning – the latest in a string of fatalities in the States linked to the drug.
After appearing in court last week, Pratt was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child.
Baby 'in the way'
However, the jury cleared her of first- or third-degree murder, reports Fox 10 Phoenix.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described Pratt as showing no visible reaction to the verdict.
During the trial, prosecutors aired a chilling video interview with Pittsburgh police.
In it, Detective Michael Flynn asked her how drugs got into the pink cup found on the bed.
He told her the cup had enough fentanyl in it to "kill two horses".
She asked: "Just straight fentanyl? I have no knowledge of how fentanyl got into my daughter's sippy cup."
The mum claimed the drug might have already been present in a prepared fruit-flavoured drink.
But, Assistant District Attorney Diana Page told the court that Charlette was given the lethal cocktail as Pratt wanted to "relax" with some marijuana and "that baby was getting in the way of her enjoying her pastime," reports the New York Post.
Pratt's lawyer, Brandon Herring, alleged that her boyfriend, Albert Williams, had prepared her daughter's drink, adding, "the prosecution hasn't provided any evidence that Ms Pratt put the fentanyl in that cup."
However, the jury was informed that if Charlette’s drink had been laced with the drug when Williams gave it to her earlier that day, the baby “would have died very shortly after ingesting [fentanyl].
“Jhenea Pratt was the only person present during the afternoon hours that was with Charlette.”
The couple had denied using, transporting or storing heroin or fentanyl.
Pratt's sentencing date has not yet been set.
Much of the fentanyl found in the US originates in China.
But it is often smuggled through Mexico, where it is usually pressed into pills.
Authorities have found inconsistencies in the doses of fentanyl contained in the same batch of tablets. Mexican cartels also produce the drug from precursor chemicals, mainly imported from China.
Fentanyl was first created in the 1960s as a treatment for cancer pain and a more powerful form, carfentanyl, is used to tranquilise elephants.
The drug – which is commonly cut into street heroin – hit headlines after musician Prince died from an accidental overdose in 2016.
What is fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a strong opioid painkiller that is used by many patients around the world suffering from chronic conditions.
It works by stopping pain signals being sent to the nerves in the brain, meaning users do not suffer any discomfort.
Due to its strength, it is highly controlled by doctors and pharmacists and cannot be prescribed for children.
Like most drugs, there is a high risk of overdosing on Fentanyl if you take more than the recommended dose.
And due to the drug being a powerful opioid, overdosing on it can prove to be fatal.
Police in cities across the US and Canada are also seeing people become hooked on the drug due to its highly-addictive nature.
Some even combine the drug with heroin or cocaine to create an even more potent formula, that heightens it effect of feeling relaxed.
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