Baby died after 'massive' intake of cocaine

February 07, 1991|By Roger Twiggand Lynda Robinson

An 11-month-old baby who died in November expired after ingesting "a massive amount" of cocaine -- the first time, police believe, that an infant in Baltimore has died from an overdose of an illegal drug.

After receiving a toxicology report on Tikia Shannon Smallwood-Patterson yesterday, police ruled her death Nov. 12 a homicide.

Assistant State's Attorney Timothy Doory said that no one knows whether Tikia discovered the cocaine on her own in her mother's apartment at Lafayette Courts, located in the 100 block of Colvin Street, or was given the lethal dosage intentionally.

"That has not been answered yet," Mr. Doory said. "We just got the ruling [from the state medical examiner's office] minutes ago.

"We are now in the process of trying to find out how the child got access to it."

Police spokesman Dennis S. Hill said the case can be ruled a homicide no matter how Tikia came in contact with the cocaine.

Homicide investigators said they intend to talk again with the baby's mother, 26-year-old Tammy Patterson.

Ms. Patterson insisted yesterday that her daughter -- the youngest of her four children -- died of natural causes in her bed. She denied any possibility that Tikia had swallowed cocaine.

"They should be ashamed of themselves to say something like that," she said, sitting in her sister's darkened apartment at Lafayette Courts. "There wasn't no cocaine in the house for her to get to."

Mr. Hill said that in addition to Ms. Patterson, numerous people had been in the apartment the day of her daughter's death.

An assistant state medical examiner, Frank J. Peretti, refused to say how much of the drug the baby ingested before she experienced abnormal heart rhythms and died from cocaine intoxication.

However, Mr. Hill said the baby had ingested "a massive amount" of cocaine.

Tikia was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Hospital on the afternoon of Nov. 12 after being taken there by ambulance.

Ms. Patterson told police that she had given Tikia a bottle about 9:30 a.m. and placed the baby on a sofa bed.

She said she went to check on the baby about three hours later and found that she was not breathing and had a small amount of blood in her mouth. Also, the infant's nostrils had collapsed, she told police.

Tikia already appeared to be dead and her body was "slightly stiff" when brought to the hospital, according to police. Nevertheless, the medical staff worked on the infant for almost an hour before pronouncing her dead.

When the infant's body arrived at the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy, Dr. Peretti said, he had no reason to believe that the baby died from anything other than natural causes.

There were no indications that the infant had been abused, he said.

After initial autopsy proved inconclusive, routine toxicology tests were ordered. The results of those tests were received Tuesday and showed that the infant had died from cocaine intoxication, Dr. Peretti said.

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