By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 25, 2010; B08
The mystery of how a 5-month-old boy overdosed on heroin in Fairfax County last year may never be answered, but a Fairfax jury convicted an acknowledged heroin addict Tuesday of felony child neglect and sentenced him to 30 days in jail.
The overdose, which did not result in permanent harm to the boy, has led to felony child neglect convictions for his mother and the two people she left him with July 14, 2009. The boy's mother, Marilyn R. Fischl, 37, also received a 30-day sentence. His father, Rafael Preston, 31, who was also at the house that day, faces trial on the same charges.
Fischl, also an acknowledged heroin addict, lived in a rented townhouse in the Springfield area with Preston, the baby boy, her 2-year-old daughter, her 10-year-old son and two adults, longtime friend Patrick M. Hall, 42, and a recent acquaintance from drug rehab, Erin C. Flynn, 32. On the day the baby overdosed, Fischl said, she left the child with Hall and Flynn while she took her daughter to a doctor's appointment.
Flynn, who pleaded guilty to child neglect in March, testified that Fischl handed Hall a packet of heroin before leaving with her daughter. Flynn told police that Fischl provided the heroin as payment for babysitting, court records show.
Fischl repeatedly denied giving Hall heroin that day. Hall did not testify at his two-day trial.
Flynn testified at Fischl's and Hall's trials that she and Hall then snorted lines of heroin with the baby close by. She said she then went outside to smoke a cigarette, and Hall told her he had to leave for his own doctor's appointment.
When Flynn went back inside, she said, she saw the baby with "a piece of paper, resembling the one Mr. Hall and I had used heroin on, in his mouth." She didn't know how the paper got in the baby's mouth.
Flynn said that she was worried and watched the baby closely for the next few hours and that but he seemed fine. It wasn't until 5 p.m., after the boy's grandmother had taken him to her house, that he began to seem lethargic and weak, and he was rushed to an urgent-care center and then to Inova Fairfax Hospital.
William Hauda II, an emergency pediatrician at Inova Fairfax, testified that the baby's urine was tested and found positive for opiates. He was given Narcan, an antidote to drug overdoses, and quickly recovered, Hauda said.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Camille Turner argued that Hall should be convicted of neglect both for snorting heroin around the baby and leaving him with Flynn, a known addict. It took the jury about 90 minutes to convict Hall.
Hall took the stand before his sentencing and said that he frequently babysat and that he loved Fischl's children. "Their welfare was always my first concern," he said tearfully. "Whatever was going on, I wanted to make sure the kids were okay at all times."
Hall said he thought that Flynn was trained as a pediatric nurse. Flynn acknowledged lying about that to Hall.
Hall was taken to jail after the jury sentenced him. Jail records show Fischl served about 25 days of her sentence. Flynn was sentenced in May to three years, all of it suspended, with intensive probation monitoring.