David Castro, the father of 3-month-old Phoenix Castro, has been denied bail on a felony child endangerment charge. The court filings shed light on how the baby girl ingested a lethal dose of fentanyl while in her father’s care. A crime lab analysis revealed fentanyl residue “all over” the pink flowered onesie she was wearing at the time of her death, including around the neck area.
During the bail hearing, family members emotionally pleaded with Superior Court Judge Christopher Rudy to keep David Castro in jail. They highlighted his visitation rights with his two older children, who are currently living with their maternal grandmother. The grandmother, Rita De La Cerda, expressed concerns that if Castro had fentanyl on his hands, his other children could also be exposed.
The case of baby Phoenix has been under investigation by the Bay Area News Group, which discovered that Santa Clara County’s child welfare agency overlooked several warning signs when allowing Phoenix to be in her father’s care. The couple’s two other children had previously been removed by the county’s Department of Family and Children’s Services, and both parents had tested positive for cocaine, fentanyl, and methamphetamines before Phoenix’s birth.
At the bail hearing, Deputy District Attorney Maria Gershenovich revealed that Castro had admitted to timing his drug use around social workers’ planned visits to his home. Documents obtained by the news organization showed that Castro had failed to answer the door on at least two occasions when a social worker arrived for a visit.
The court determined that there were no alternatives to ensure the safety of Castro’s older children and the public, leading to the decision to keep him in jail. Relatives and friends gathered in a prayer circle outside the courtroom before the hearing, expressing relief that Castro would remain behind bars for now.
The case has raised concerns among social workers who feel their ability to protect children has been limited by the county’s legal representation. The discovery of fentanyl on baby Phoenix’s onesie and in the kitchen, along with broken glass pipes near her baby bottle, has further fueled outrage.