Mom whose infant had cocaine in system headed to court

Published 8:51 am Friday, July 23, 2010

FRANKLIN—The attorney for a Franklin woman charged with child neglect after cocaine was found in her 7-month-old daughter’s system asked a judge on to dismiss the felony charge.

Public defender Jennifer Walsh, who represents Megan Banton, said there was no evidence presented during a Wednesday preliminary hearing of how the cocaine got into the baby’s system. There was also no evidence if it even happened when the child was in Banton’s care.

Judge Robert Brewbaker Jr., however, determined there was enough evidence for the case against Banton to continue to Southampton County Circuit Court.

During the hearing, a social worker testified that social services made several trips to the home to check on the welfare of two small children before gaining entry with the assistance of Franklin police.

The social worker testified the then 7-month-old was “lethargic” and lying on a mattress in a bedroom wrapped in a damp sheet. An older child was walking around the home in a diaper.

Both children received medical exams, and cocaine was found in the system of the younger child.

Franklin police Detective Cpl. Joshua Butts, who accompanied social services to Banton’s home in the 300 block of Artis Street, testified he was familiar with the home because police had responded there “on several occasions” on suspected narcotics usage.

Beth Reavis, Franklin’s director of social services, was also at the home. Reavis testified Banton, who was 21 when she was arrested in April, was “agitated, which is a natural reaction.”

Reavis also said Banton refused a drug screening.

Prosecutor Toni Duncan said the commonwealth couldn’t say how the child ingested the cocaine, but that doesn’t clear Banton of wrongdoing.

“She admitted to using drugs while the children were in the house,” Duncan said.

The children have been in the care of family members since Banton’s arrest.

The judge granted Banton a $3,000 bond with surety. She is not allowed to have any unsupervised contact with the children.