BROOKLYN, Conn. – A Rhode Island couple faced a judge Friday in connection to the death of their 8-month-old baby girl who died, according to court documents, from drinking Benadryl from a bottle.
A judge ordered Justine Barber, 28, and Kevin Hartshorn, 32, both of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, held on $125,000 bond. Barber was charged with manslaughter and risk of injury charges. Hartshorn was charged with negligent homicide and risk of injury.
According to court documents, Barber returned back to their then-home in Brooklyn, Connecticut in February after working an overnight shift at Walmart to find their 8-month-old daughter lifeless. She called 911 and told the dispatcher "my baby is dead," and said that her face and lips were blue.
Police interviewed Hartshorn, who admitted that he took care of the kids the night before and that he was "bombed" after drinking 15 beers. He told police that he put the baby to bed on a plastic mattress that she does not normally sleep on.
In April, police re-interviewed Barber and Hartshorn. At that time, the court documents state, the couple admitted to giving their three children "specials," or bottles with dissolved sleep-aids in them. Hartshorn told police that he texted Barber on the night of the incident to tell her that the baby girl was "screaming and crying turning purple" after drinking a bottle prepared by Barber with 50 mg of dissolved sleep aid in it.
The medical examiner found that the baby died from acute diphenhydramine intoxication, or an elevated level of Benadryl, which can be fatal to young children.
After court on Friday, Barber's family maintained that neither parent meant to hurt their child.
"Their baby didn't go to bed dirty, unbathed, unfed, unclothed. They took care of their children and they loved their children,” Barber’s aunt Robin Daigle said.
The Department of Children and Families is involved in the case and has removed the couple's other two children from them.
Barber is due back in Danielson Superior Court on July 10. Hartshorn is due back in the same court on July 17.