'Mommy had given him medicine:' Mother pleads guilty after 5-year-old tested positive for methadone

Leta Cha

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee mother charged with child neglect after prosecutors said her 5-year-old son ended up at Children's Hospital with methadone in his system reached a plea deal Thursday, Sept. 26.

Leta Cha, 27, of Milwaukee, entered the plea to one count of neglecting a child (consequence is bodily harm). Sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 14.

According to a criminal complaint, on Jan. 28, police responded to Children's Hospital, where a doctor indicated a 5-year-old tested positive for methadone. This, after the child arrived at the hospital unresponsive and not breathing. After multiple doses of Narcan were delivered, the child was able to breathe on his own, however, the complaint said the child "periodically stopped breathing and needed additional doses" of Narcan.

The boy had to be admitted to the hospital, where he received a continuous drip of Narcan while the methadone was exiting his system.

The complaint said "exposure to methadone (an opioid) places a child at significant risk for great bodily harm as even a single dose can cause death."

According to the complaint, the boy told investigators "his mommy" had "given him some medicine" and he had "an owie." The complaint noted the boy wasn't able to explain what happened.

Cha told investigators "she is a recovering addict and takes methadone" which she gets weekly from a clinic. She said she keeps it in a lock box. She said on the morning of Jan. 28, she was trying to clean out her bottles so she could get them refilled and "may have left them unattended."

When FOX6 News stopped by her listed address in March, no one answered the door.

Dana Emold

Dana Emold, a therapist with Rogers Behavioral Health isn't associated with this case, but works with recovering addicts and said all prescriptions should be locked up, especially if there are children in the home.

"He was very lucky. He was very, very lucky. Methadone is a medication and any medication that isn't locked up can be a danger to a child or another adult. It's worth the inconvenience and it is very easy to purchase a lock box," said Emold.