THESE STORIES ARE (EXPLICIT) OUT(EXPLICIT)RAGEOUS!
WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO STOP?
A foster mom under investigation for beating her 6-year-old daughter was charged Monday with killing the girl with an adult pain patch that packs a powerful narcotic.
The warning label on Joanne Alvarez's pain medication - a fentanyl patch - clearly reads "KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN."
Alvarez, a veteran home health aide, stuck it on Taylor Webster's neck anyway, prosecutors said.
"A home health aide for 20 years could not have been more reckless," Assistant District Attorney Penelope Brady said after Alvarez was charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child and ordered held on $500,000 bail.
Brady told Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Abraham Clott that Alvarez "gave a confession to me on video at the precinct."
Defense lawyer Arnold Levine called that a "misstatement," and said his client had been "grossly overcharged."
Taylor's death raised fresh questions about the Administration for Children's Services' ability to protect the city's most vulnerable children.
Alvarez, 54, who has five biological children and two adopted kids, was already under investigation by ACS for excessively spanking Taylor - and had been accused of that same offense twice in the past, prosecutors said.
ACS investigators who visited Alvarez's apartment last month at the Taft Houses in East Harlem - where she was also raising an 8-year-old boy - found the kids living in filth and squalor, sources said.
"If it was anything like the way it is now, ACS should have pulled those kids out of the house then," a law enforcement source said. "It was squalid. You could barely move around."
Alvarez left Taylor in the care of her 23-year-old biological daughter, Channel Harris, who found the little girl unconscious around 3 p.m. Sunday but - for reasons still unclear - waited almost an hour before she had a friend call 911, sources said.
A spokeswoman for ACS said the agency was assisting in the investigation but could not comment on the case.
Alvarez's other foster child was removed from her custody.
No charges were being contemplated against Harris because there was no evidence she knew about the patch or that her delay in calling 911 contributed to the child's death, law enforcement sources said.
The medical examiner's office said toxicology tests are needed before it can declare the cause of death, but it said in court documents that giving adult pain patches to a child could lead to "severe health problems or death."
The tragedy began unfolding at 5 p.m. Saturday when Taylor complained she had a headache, Brady said. Alvarez told prosecutors she gave the girl children's-strength Motrin pain reliever and went to a concert, leaving Taylor with a baby-sitter
When Alvarez returned before midnight, Taylor was still in pain. So Alvarez gave her more Motrin and then slapped a prescription fentanyl patch on her neck - directly over her carotid artery - despite instructions that say it shouldn't be used on kids under 16, Brady said.
On Sunday morning, Alvarez went to work - leaving Taylor in Harris' care.
Harris woke up at 1 p.m. and didn't go check on Taylor until 3 p.m., when she found the girl blue and unconscious in a bedroom. She called her mother and a friend, who called 911 at 4:04 p.m., sources said.
Taylor was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Medical Center at 5:10 p.m.
Alvarez told cops a doctor prescribed the patches in January for the chronic pain she had suffered since a 2000 car accident.
Brady said it is not clear where Alvarez got the pain patches because she did not have a prescription for the medicine. Nor did they find any Motrin packages in the apartment, she said.
Even if Alvarez had a prescription, the dosage would have been too much for Taylor. Her foster mom weighs 260 pounds - Taylor weighed just 59.
"The poor kid overdosed," a police source said. "She's a tiny kid and didn't stand a chance."
A fentanyl patch is applied to the skin and delivers drugs into the bloodstream through the skin. It's strong stuff: It packs more punch than morphine and a single dose can relieve pain for up to three days.
Neighbors paused to say quiet prayers in front of Taylor's building at a makeshift memorial decorated with balloons, votive candles and rest-in-peace signs.
Family friend Yvonne Smith said Alvarez was "a loving mother."
Another neighbor, Levahn Gourdine, said everybody in the Taft Houses knew Taylor.
"The little girl Taylor, who we all loved, reminded you of a Cabbage Patch doll," she said. "She was so full of joy. She was a like a sun ray coming down."
Other neighbors said they worried about Alvarez's kids.
"This was a very strange woman," Elica Ortiz said of Alvarez. "I never saw her show these kids love. She didn't treat her foster kids with respect."
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Pain-relieving patch kills Harlem girl, 6; foster mother charged