2 charged in child's overdose Grandmother, mother accused in murder of boy, 4 BALTIMORE CITY

August 31, 1993|By Michael James and Roger Twigg | Michael James and Roger Twigg,Staff Writers

The mother and grandmother of a 4-year-old Northwest Baltimore boy have been charged with murder in the death of the child, who swallowed a lethal amount of methadone that was part of a stash the grandmother was intending to sell, police said.

Aaron L. Avery Jr. died July 12 at Sinai Hospital after swallowing a large quantity of the drug at his home in the 5200 block of St. Charles Ave., police said.

Charged with second-degree murder over the weekend were Aaron's mother, Theadora A. Powell, 22, and grandmother, Barbara L. Bonner, 40, both of whom live at the St. Charles Avenue residence. They were being held yesterday at the Baltimore Women's Detention Center, Ms. Bonner on $100,000 bail and Ms. Powell on $50,000 bond.

A police report said Ms. Bonner is a licensed practical nurse at a methadone treatment clinic where methadone supplies have been inexplicably disappearing. Police said they are investigating whether the methadone that killed the boy may have been stolen from the clinic, which was not named in the report.

Methadone is an addictive pain-reliever that clinics prescribe as a substitute for heroin in drug addiction treatment programs. Police said the narcotic is also sold on the illicit drug market.

Appearing in Eastside District Court yesterday at a bail review hearing before Judge Carol E. Smith, Ms. Bonner appeared haggard as she argued for a reduction of bail.

"I'm still taking care of my seven-year-old daughter, and I do work full-time," Ms. Bonner told the judge. "I pay everything for the child, including health care."

But Judge Smith refused to lower the bail.

According to a statement of facts read in court, Ms. Bonner had the drug at the home for the purpose of selling it and somehow Aaron "got a hold of the methadone."

Ms. Powell told police that on July 12, Aaron was asleep on a sofa just before noon, according to a police report. She said she tried to awaken her son but found him to be unresponsive and apparently not breathing, the report said.

The boy's uncle performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques on Aaron with no success. Aaron was then taken to Sinai Hospital, where doctors observed a large amount of blood in his mouth, police said. He was pronounced dead at 1:45 p.m. and homicide investigators were summoned to the hospital to begin an investigation.

On Aug. 12, the state medical examiner's office received the results of toxicology tests on the boy's body and ruled his death a homicide by methadone poisoning. Homicide detectives interviewed several witnesses about the boy's death in recent weeks and charged the two women based on information received. Detectives declined to discuss that information yesterday.

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