An Indiana woman whose 16-year-old son committed suicide
in July was charged Thursday with neglect after prosecutors determined
there wasn't enough evidence to support a rarely used charge
that would have alleged her drug use drove the teen to take his
prosecutors filed a single count of neglect of a dependent resulting
in serious bodily injury against Sabrina A. Howard, 40, in the
death of her son. Police said the teen died July 11 from an overdose
of Howard's prescription medication.
The Muncie woman
remained jailed without bond Thursday pending a Monday initial
court hearing. Jail records listed no attorney for Howard.
She was arrested
Monday on preliminary charges of neglect of a dependent and causing
suicide a rarely used Indiana law that's been on the
books since 1976.
A probable cause
affidavit states that relatives told police Howard was a morphine
addict and her son, Charles Howard, "was in great duress"
from confronting her repeatedly over her addiction and his fears
that she might overdose and he would find her dead.
outlining the causing suicide charge states that the felony count
can be used against "a person who intentionally causes
another human being, by force, duress, or deception, to commit
suicide." [Emphasis added.]
But Chief Trial
Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hoffman said that the evidence did not
support that charge against Sabrina Howard.
the statute what it really contemplates is if I somehow want
you to commit suicide and I want you to die then I force you
to kill yourself by physical force, by duress or somehow by deception.
And that really didn't fit this fact pattern," Hoffman said.
allege in their neglect charge that Howard endangered the life
or health of her son and knowingly failed to provide necessary
support to him.
case, support means medical care," Hoffman said.
the affidavit, Howard told officers on July 10 after finding
her son unresponsive on a couch in their home that she thought
he had taken her pills, including 30 of the anti-anxiety drug
Xanax and 26 of the painkiller Lortab. Charles Howard died the
following day and his death was ruled a suicide attributed to
high levels of prescription medications.
In an interview
with police days later, Howard said she confronted her son the
morning of July 10 about her missing drugs, the affidavit states.
She said he denied taking them but she suspected otherwise because
he had slow speech and was "groggy acting."
even told Charles that what he consumed could kill him,"
the affidavit says.
But Howard allegedly
did not seek medical help for her son, instead telling police
she checked on him periodically during the day as he slept on
a couch to make sure "he was still breathing," the
She called 911
after finding him not breathing and with a grayish/white skin
color, the document says.
that he cannot discuss the details of the case but said Charles
Howard's death is sad and tragic.
somebody that young, 16 years old and with a bright future ahead
of them, dies unexpectedly and needlessly, that's definitely
a tragedy," he said.