GREENFIELD — Local officials are choosing treatment over prison time for a New Palestine mother whose toddler tested positive for opioids late last year.
Brooke Copp, 23, whose 18-month-old son overdosed after ingesting a methadone tablet and had to be revived with an overdose-reversing drug, was sentenced Tuesday to serve four years on probation after pleading guilty to a Level 5 felony count of child neglect.
The plea comes as part of a deal with prosecutors in which Copp agreed to probation time while continuing the intense drug-treatment program she enrolled herself in after her arrest in November.
Should Copp violate her probation, she’ll be sent to prison, Deputy Prosecutor John Keiffner told the judge Tuesday.
Copp’s son was hospitalized after testing positive for opiates and methadone, ingredients found in some strong prescription pain medicines; and a drug test following Copp’s arrest revealed Suboxone, morphine and cocaine in her system, court records state.
The toddler, now 2 years old, made a full recovery, and Copp spent nearly a week in the Hancock County Jail.
But since Copp was released on bond, both Keiffner and Randy Shouse, Copp’s attorney, say she’s taken significant steps to get sober. She successfully completed an inpatient- treatment program and is now spending time in a second one, they told the judge Tuesday.
Copp told the judge she takes full responsibility for what happened to her child, and she feels deep guilt for what happened. She’d struggled with substance abuse for many years and several times tried to participate in alcoholics anonymous programs, at which time she’d sworn to be sober for her family.
That’s changed, Copp said. Now, she wants to be sober for herself, too.
“I’m not that person anymore,” she told Court Commissioner Scott Sirk, who took the bench in Hancock County Superior Court 1 on Tuesday for Judge Terry Snow.
Copp took her son to Community Hospital East in Indianapolis in November after the child appeared lethargic, she told police. The baby fell into a state of unresponsiveness at the hospital, and he had trouble breathing. Staffers at the facility used Narcan, a brand name of the prescription drug, naloxone, to reverse the effects of the drugs he’d ingested, court records state.
The Indiana Department of Child Services gave Copp’s parents custody of her son immediately after her arrest; as she completes her probation time, she’ll continue to have supervised visits with her child.
Copp said she’s looking forward to the day when she’s healthy enough to move in with her parents and live with her son once again.
Keiffner told Copp Tuesday he hopes she remembers that just last week, a young mother, Jessica Merriman, was sentenced to spend 25 years in prison because her daughter, Zoey, died after being neglected. Keiffner told the judge it would be easy for the state to make a similar argument that Copp deserves to spend time in prison for the danger she’d put her child in.
“But it’s not the right thing for this case,” Keiffner said. “When you see where she is now, when you see she’s responded to the treatment she’s received … it’s the right thing to do to let her continue on this journey.”