Tragic Fentanyl Overdose Claims Life of Baby Phoenix Castro in San Jose

San Jose – In a heart-wrenching incident, 3-month-old Phoenix Castro tragically lost her life due to a fentanyl overdose. The preliminary hearing for her father, David Castro, commenced on Tuesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court. Castro faces charges of felony child endangerment and other enhancements, which could result in a maximum jail term of 10 years. The ongoing hearing will determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

The devastating impact of fentanyl has claimed the lives of five infants or toddlers in the Bay Area since 2020. In three cases, parents from Brentwood, Livermore, and San Jose have been charged with murder. Additionally, a mother from Fremont is facing an involuntary manslaughter charge for her 23-month-old son’s fentanyl-related death.

Deputy District Attorney Maria Gershenovich, who is prosecuting the Castro case, explained that the evidence supports the less severe charge of child endangerment. Murder charges typically require evidence of malice, which is not present in this case. In the tragic death of Winter Rayo, 1, from San Jose, prosecutors possess text messages between the parents that demonstrate their awareness of the danger fentanyl posed to their daughter, indicating a “conscious disregard for human life,” according to District Attorney Jeff Rosen.

Baby Phoenix’s untimely demise in May last year prompted an examination of the Santa Clara County’s Department of Family and Children’s Services. Despite a history of drug use and the agency’s prior removal of the couple’s two older children due to severe neglect, the department allowed the infant to go home with her father. Disturbing records obtained by the Bay Area News Group revealed that the children were found sucking on Triple A batteries during a previous incident. Baby Phoenix, born in February 2023 with drugs in her system, was sent home despite objections from at least one social worker who warned of mortal danger.

County Executive James Williams acknowledged the county’s failure in baby Phoenix’s death, admitting that they “dropped the ball.” San Jose Police Officer Daniel McNamara testified that he was the first officer to arrive at the Castro apartment on the day of the incident. He found Castro and Rita De La Cerda, the baby’s grandmother, kneeling next to the lifeless infant while on the phone with a 911 operator. The baby, lying on her back on the floor, displayed no signs of movement or breathing. McNamara described the distressing scene, stating that the infant’s face had turned a deep purple and blue. He attempted CPR but felt as if he were holding a lifeless doll when he picked her up. Subsequent analysis by the county crime lab revealed fentanyl on the baby’s onesie.

During cross-examination, defense lawyer Mishya Singh questioned Officer McNamara about inspecting the rug where the baby had been lying, suggesting that the fentanyl found on the onesie might have come from the floor. Singh’s line of questioning aimed to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. Police discovered drug paraphernalia in the kitchen near the baby’s bottle on the morning of the incident. The baby’s mother, Emily De La Cerda, had recently been in a drug and mental health treatment center, and her mother, Rita, had picked her up for a visit with the baby. Emily was the first to enter the apartment and ran out screaming after a few minutes, leaving Rita to discover the tragic scene. Four months after baby Phoenix’s death, Emily also succumbed to a fentanyl overdose.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

2 Responses

  1. “Every child is a precious gift, and it is our responsibility to protect them from harm.”

    This quote resonates with the post because it highlights the importance of safeguarding children and ensuring their safety. The tragic incident of Phoenix Castro’s fentanyl overdose serves as a reminder of the vulnerability of children and the need for adults to be vigilant in protecting them. It emphasizes the responsibility we all have to create a safe environment for children, free from any potential dangers or harm. This quote reminds us of

  2. This is absolutely sickening and heartbreaking. How could anyone be so careless and irresponsible to allow a 3-month-old baby to be exposed to such a dangerous substance like fentanyl? It’s beyond comprehension. This poor innocent child didn’t stand a chance against this deadly drug. The individuals responsible for this tragedy should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. It’s a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of drug abuse and the urgent need for stricter measures to prevent such senseless deaths from happening

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