Ventnor mom sentenced in death of baby daughter
A mother who admitted to giving her daughter a fatal dose of methadone was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday.
Lisa Scalia, 33, said her life changed when she found out she was pregnant.
She was doing heroin daily at that point in late 2014, so she went to the hospital and asked what to do, she told the judge at her sentencing Monday. She was put on methadone program.
Things were good after Olaia Marie’s birth May 5, 2015, but then Scalia began using heroin again. On Jan. 3, claiming she thought she was giving her daughter Children’s Tylenol, Scalia administered her methadone to the baby.
When police arrived at Scalia’s home on Monmouth Avenue in Ventnor Heights on Jan. 3, they found the baby girl unresponsive.
Scalia was inconsolable, believing she had rolled onto the baby and suffocated her, according to information released in court.
She fully cooperated with police, telling them she had used heroin and even showing them where the drugs were, acting First Assistant Prosecutor Pam D’Arcy said.
Olaia died five days later, never regaining consciousness. She had just turned 8 months.
“She was my whole life. My everything,” Scalia cried as she addressed Superior Court Judge Michael Blee. “My daughter helped change my life. Then, something terrible happened.”
Things had gotten terrible before, Scalia’s stepfather told the court.
Diagnosed with scalp cancer years before, she went through painful treatments and eight surgeries, which came with prescribed narcotics.
When the prescriptions stopped, the heroin use began.
“I began using drugs thinking it was an answer to some of my external ugliness,” Scalia said in a letter she read to the court Monday.
“I was in law enforcement just about 25 years, I’ve seen the scourge of it,” said stepdad, Bill Bell, who is retired from the Atlantic City Police Department. “The scourge of drugs.”
Aggravated manslaughter normally carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.
Scalia’s cooperation and immediate remorse were factored in to the state agreeing to a prison term below that of the charge, D’Arcy said.
“At the end of the day, she’s going to have to live with causing the death of her child every single day for the rest of her life,” the prosecutor said.
“My Olaia will never be in my arms again,” Scalia said. “I pray for forgiveness every day. For Olaia’s forgiveness.
My love for my daughter will never die.”
Scalia must serve at least 85 percent of her sentence, or six years and nine months. She has credit for the 401 days she has been jailed.