Infant Hospitalized, Casper Woman Accused of Endangering Children With Methamphetamine
A woman who was accused of endangering children with methamphetamine in 2013 now faces two identical charges after an infant reportedly fell from a booster seat and lost consciousness Friday evening.
Vickie Rae Pitner, 41, faces two counts of felony child endangerment with methamphetamine. She could spend up to 10 years in prison and have to pay $10,000 in fines if convicted on both charges.
Court documents say a Casper police detective went to an apartment at 6:30 p.m. Friday for a report of an unconscious child who fell from a highchair or had been dropped by her brother.
The child was not crying and the child's eyes were closed, according to the affidavit.
After some time, the child began to cry but was still very lethargic. The child was being loaded into an ambulance when the detective arrived.
An officer at the scene told the detective that the situation was very odd. Police learned during the investigation that Pitner's boyfriend allegedly fled the scene when he learned that police were on the way.
Pitner also claimed the child fell from a highchair, but she was in another room and didn't see the fall. Officers also noted in court documents that the apartment was carpeted and the high chair the child supposedly fell from was not very tall -- in fact, it appeared to be more of a booster seat placed on a chair.
The detective writes in his affidavit that it is not common for children to lose consciousness in such a short fall.
An agent with the Wyoming Department of Family Services responded and found that the boyfriend who fled the scene had been tested by the department for drug use earlier that day in an unrelated case. He allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine.
Court documents say Pitner also had history with the department where drugs were an issue.
Pitner allegedly told detectives that a six-year-old was sitting at the table with the infant, who was sitting in the booster seat. Pitner left the table for a moment to use the restroom and while she was doing so, she heard the six-year-old yell for her.
Pitner reportedly said she looked down the hall and saw the infant face-down on the floor, with the six-year-old trying to pick the child up.
The six-year-old reportedly said Pitner's boyfriend asked them to move the child's chair so she could watch the television. When the chair was moved, the child fell, according to Pitner's statement as reported in the affidavit.
Pitner then picked up the child and saw that it was not conscious, but was breathing. She yelled several for her boyfriend to call police, but he refused, so Pitner called 911.
Pitner told police she wasn't paying attention to her boyfriend and didn't realize he left the apartment until police and EMS showed up. She reportedly said she didn't know why he left and speculated it was because the boyfriend was trespassed from the apartment complex and didn't want to get in trouble.
According to the affidavit, Pitner refused a urine analysis when asked about drug use. She allegedly told deputies she hadn't used methamphetamine for the past month.
Pitner reportedly claimed she didn't have problems with the police when asked about her criminal history, but the detective looked up her history and found she had been on probation/parole for child endangerment with methamphetamine in 2013.
A detective took protective custody of the children.
When interviewed by detectives, the six-year-old child reportedly said he was often responsible for the infant and that Pitner would leave him and the infant alone in the apartment.
Officers searched Pitner's apartment and allegedly found several "stash cans" -- devices used to store drugs throughout the house. However, no methamphetamine was found inside those cans.
But police found a small case under the living room table that had a mirror inside. That mirror reportedly appeared to have methamphetamine residue on it, and the residue later tested positive for methamphetamine according to court documents.
A detective found the booster seat from which the child fell -- a booster seat strapped to a chair. The booster seat was secured to the chair, but it was very clear the straps that would be used to secure a child in the seat were not used, as they were laying on the seat where the child would sit and were flattened as if they had been sat on, according to the affidavit.
Police allegedly found Pitner's boyfriend hiding in another apartment in the same building. He reportedly told police that Pitner gave him the keys to the second apartment and told him to wait there after the child fell.
The boyfriend's account of the fall included details that were not in line with what Pitner allegedly told police. Specifically, he reportedly told police that Pitner was in the master bedroom laying on the bed with him when the child fell.
He also allegedly denied that he or Pitner used any drugs or alcohol. When confronted regarding his positive urine test from that morning, he said it was a false positive and he never used methamphetamine, according to court documents.
The affidavit says officers told him that it was clearly apparent he was under the influence of methamphetamine as he spoke to police. They also told him about the methamphetamine residue found in the apartment.
The boyfriend then allegedly said he was only trying to help Pitner and didn't want her to get in any trouble.
Court documents say the boyfriend told officers that when police were called after the child fell, Pitner told him to get rid of their meth pipe and hide it. According to the affidavit, it was the pipe the boyfriend and Pitner used to smoke in the apartment's master bedroom that day around 11 a.m.
The boyfriend allegedly said they would smoke methamphetamine by an open window in the bedroom while the children were in the living room.
Police reportedly found the meth pipe in the apartment where the boyfriend was found. The boyfriend also provided a urine sample which allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine.
Detectives went back to Wyoming Medical Center and told Pitner she was under arrest. She reportedly pulled out an electronic cigarette and began smoking -- while in the pediatric unit of the hospital, according to the affidavit.
Detectives took the cigarette away from Pitner, handcuffed her and took her to jail.
The child was kept in the hospital overnight for observation. Court documents do not provide further information on the child's condition.
Pitner made her initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court on Tuesday. Her bond was set at $5,000 cash or surety, and a public defender was appointed to represent her.