Trial opens in boy's fatal overdose


When 16-month-old Ashton Timothy Preston toddled across the kitchen in search of a bottle in December 2004, Elaine Marie Butler shook her head at him.

Butler, who had taken the boy and his recovering addict mother in after meeting at church, was trying to wean him off bottles. So she gave him a Mickey Mouse cup - filled with what was later found to be methadone. Within hours, the boy was dead.

Yesterday, Butler's attorney and prosecutors agreed on the events that led to the boy ingesting the drug. But prosecutors say it was what Butler, a registered nurse, didn't do afterward that makes her criminally responsible.

Butler, 53, of the 1200 block of Castleton Road, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and accessory after the fact. Prosecutors said she ignored signs of an overdose and failed to seek help.

During opening statements in Harford Circuit Court, defense attorney Will Abercrombie Jr. described Butler as a kind, Christian woman being blamed for a "tragic accident."

Last month, the boy's mother, Kelley Jean Briggs, 23, was ordered to serve five years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Police said Briggs left methadone in the cup.

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