In Danville Circuit Court Wednesday, a man and a woman both pled guilty as part of a plea agreement on identical charges related to the November 2018 death of 2-month-old Marleigh Chandler.
Eugene D. Chandler, Jr. and Shaleigh M. Brumfield were both convicted of two counts of felony distribution of a schedule 1 or schedule 2 substance, one count of second-degree murder and one count of felony child abuse and neglect.
Judge James Reynolds accepted the terms of the plea agreement provided by the Commonwealth. This agreement required a fixed sentence of 20 years in prison.
Had the case gone to trial, the charges against Chandler and Brumfield could have netted them both 130 years in prison and fines of over $1 million.
The plea agreement also stipulated that the other drug charges against them be dropped.
On Nov. 24, 2018, Chandler and Brumfield screamed for help at their residence at 3 Maple Grove Ave. that their baby was not breathing. A nearby Danville police officer responded, called for help and attempted CPR to no results. Marleigh Chandler was taken to the Emergency Room and was pronounced dead.
According to the statement of facts submitted to the court, the death of the 2-month-old was ruled as "Acute heroin and cocaine intoxication in the setting of co-sleeping."
Chandler told police that he and Brumfield had lied down for a nap with their baby in-between them. Brumfield gave a different version, that their baby was to her left and that she was in the middle.
At the time, the police officer noticed signs of drug use in the home, including marijuana cigarettes and glass smoking devices.
According to a search warrant, police recovered a baby blanket and 2 baby bottles from the home along with drug substances and drug paraphernalia.
Later, on Jan. 14, 2019, a toxicology analysis found trace amounts of cocaine and heroin metabolites in the baby's heart blood.
"The medical examiner said those two substances would wreak havoc on the baby's nervous system," said Petra Haskins, Deputy Commonwealth Attorney for the city and the prosecutor in this case.
Had the case gone to trial, the Medical Examiner would have testified that there was no reliable source that could rule the amounts found in the baby's blood were not enough to rule that the substances were enough to cause the baby's death on their own.
Instead, both Chandler and Brumfield entered what Judge Reynolds called "last minute" guilty pleas to the court and waived their rights to pre-sentence reports on the same day.
Haskins said there was no evidence that the couple had intentionally drugged their child, but said it was their lifestyle of constant drug use that led to the poisoning of their baby.
"Clearly these two people lived a selfish and indulgent lifestyle that led to this child's death," Haskins said.
The two drug distribution charges came from separate instances, Oct. 23, 2018, and Dec. 5, 2018, before and after their baby's death, when Brumfield and Chandler were filmed together selling methamphetamine to a police informant.
"Even though their child had died, they continued their involvement in illegal drugs," Haskins said.