Man facing 3rd-degree murder charger in overdose death of 1 year-old-boy
St. Paul, Minn. (Fox 9) - A Ramsey County couple is facing criminal charges after their 17-month-old son died in September from ingesting heroin laced with fentanyl which allegedly had been left out in the open, near where the child was playing.
Andrea Niccole Intveld, 31, is facing charges two charges of 2nd-degree manslaughter in regards to the Sept. 4 death of a 17-month-old child.
Joseph Tanner Elajah Compton, 28, of Elk River, is facing charges of 3rd-degree murder and 2nd-degree manslaughter.
Sending a message
The third-degree murder charge for Compton might be the first of its kind in Minnesota for a case involving a parent of a child who died from an overdose.
Third-degree murder is often used to charge drug dealers in cases where a suspect distributes drugs to a victim who later dies. In those cases, prosecutors use part of the statute, subsection b, that was written to apply to the distribution of drugs. Parents of young children who overdose are typically charged with 2nd-degree manslaughter, as Intveld was in this case.
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However, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi charged Compton with 3rd-degree murder under subsection (a), for "the perpetration of an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind without regard for human life."
Local criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Marsh Halberg, who is not involved in the case, said that he has dealt with several cases involving third-degree murder charges for drug dealers, but this was the first example he was aware of in which a prosecutor had used a 3rd-degree murder charge for a parent of a young child who found drugs and overdosed.
He said he thought the charge was "proper" or reasonable, but "aggressive," and could give prosecutors leverage in any plea negotiations.
"I think the prosecutor's office is sending a message that they're taking this very seriously," he said.
Intveld and Compton are represented by a St. Paul Public Defender, who did not return a request for comment.
‘Only used twice'
Intveld called 911 on Sept. 4 to report that her one-year-son, had ingested drugs while in the care of her boyfriend, Compton, who she said was a drug addict, according to the statement of probable cause prepared by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.
Ramsey County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the apartment on the 200 block of County Road in Little Canada and rendered aid until paramedics arrived to transport the child to Regions Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Intveld told deputies she left Compton with the toddler in the apartment, with the child sleeping on Compton’s chest. She said she later returned to find the child on the floor, blue and unresponsive. She and Compton then gave the child several doses of Narcan before first responders arrived, according to the charging documents.
Compton had fled the scene. Inside the apartment, deputies saw several capped and uncapped needles, small vials that appeared to be Narcan, and a spoon with burned residue consistent with intravenous drug use, according to the document.
They then executed a search warrant and, according to the document, recovered:
- An uncapped syringe with a red liquid on the kitchen floor.
- A needle cap in the middle of the living room floor with the word "mine!" written on it.
- A used syringe was sitting in plain view on the living room TV stand, within easy reach of a toddler, with the words, "only used twice" written on it.
In a second interview, Intveld admitted that she had done heroin five days before. When asked if she would test positive for heroin, she told deputies, "Well, maybe, but that won’t have anything to do with what happened to [the child]," the document says.
The statement of probable cause notes that both Compton and Intveld had a long history of contact with the sheriff's office, and they had previously been investigated for exposing the child to heroin in another incident in July.
An overhead conversation
Four days later, on Sept. 8, a Ramsey County Sheriff's Deputy was looking for Compton outside of Intveld’s apartment when he overheard Intveld talking loudly to someone on the phone she called "Joey," which the deputy knew was what she called Compton.
According to the document, the deputy said he overhead Intveld make several statements, including:
"I know that you're still using and that you killed your son with your own drugs."
"You can't even (indiscernible) keep your f-cking drugs away from your (indiscernible) one-year-old son."
"Well like, it's still, Dude, you, you've gotten him high already once before."
"He was awake for a very long time while you were passed out…with drugs sitting out."
"How do you think I feel? How do you think I feel knowing that like the person I just was hugging my son with let him die because he's such a junkie that he couldn't even f-cking just not be doing more shots of whatever the f-ck it is you had out."
Deputies arrested Compton later that day at a hotel in Maple Grove. Intveld was present, and so were "large amounts of controlled substances of different types," according to the document.
After his arrest, Compton admitted that the day the child died, he and Intveld had used heroin laced with fentanyl. He told investigators that Intveld had passed out in the bathtub, and he was playing with the child on the floor, with the heroin in reach, when he fell asleep.
He said when he woke up, the child was on top of him and not breathing, with the container holding the heroin open, about four feet away. He said he and Intveld administered Narcon to the child, and he then fled the apartment before officers arrived.
If convicted, Compton is facing up to 25 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Intveld is facing up to 10 years in prison and a 20,000 fine.
MORE: The statute in full
Minnesota's 3rd degree murder charge, explained
Minn. Stat. § 609.195. Murder in the third degree
(a) Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years.
(b) Whoever, without intent to cause death, proximately causes the death of a human being by, directly or indirectly, unlawfully selling, giving away, bartering, delivering, exchanging, distributing, or administering a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $40,000, or both.