Manatee mom facing manslaughter trial arrested for drugs

jdeleon@bradenton.comJune 28, 2013 

MANATEE -- A mother charged with manslaughter for the death of her 6-month-old baby was released from jail Thursday after being arrested for violating conditions of her supervised release.

Cherie Matthews, 30, was released on $500 bond. She faces an Oct. 28 jury trial on the manslaughter charge.

Matthews was arrested at 6 a.m. Wednesday after testing positive for drugs, a violation of her supervised release. Matthews' 6-month-old daughter died April 27, 2012, when she fell off the bed into a laundry basket full of clothes while Matthews was allegedly passed out on drugs.

The father, Matthews' boyfriend, found the child face down and unresponsive in the laundry basket of their home on the 1400 block of Eighth Street in Palmetto when he came home from job hunting.

Manatee County Emergency Medical Services technicians were unable to revive the child.

The State Attorney's Office charged Matthews with aggravated manslaughter of a child by neglect and she was arrested April 3.

Matthews was not granted bond during her initial arrest, but Judge John Lakin granted her supervised release with conditions in a bond reduction hearing April 17.

"On a first-degree she is entitled to a bond," Assistant State Attorney Daniel Yuter said. "One of her conditions was she not test positive for drugs other than her prescriptions."

Matthews was also ordered not to consume any alcohol, take prescription medication, submit to random urinalysis and have no contact with any child 18 years old or younger.

According to an affidavit, Matthews is prescribed clonazepam, a benzodiazepine used to treat seizures, panic disorder and anxiety.

Matthews tested positive for drugs two of five times she was tested.

She tested positive for cocaine April 18 and was given a verbal warning.

"Any additional positive urinalysis would result in a warrant for her arrest," she was reportedly told.

Matthews tested positive again -- this time for opiates -- June 20. Her supervised release officer reported a pharmacist "stated that none of the defendant's prescriptions would cause her to test positive for opiates."

Drug abuse is cited by law

enforcement for the negligence that led to the baby's death.

Toxicology reports on Matthews later reportedly revealed she was impaired due to high levels of alprazolam, clonazepam and methadone in her bloodstream.

Child Protective Services was involved multiple times during the baby's short life. The first time came in October 2011 when the baby was born addicted to methadone.

In January 2012, there were additional reports of drug abuse and neglect after Matthews tested positive for methadone, cocaine, benzodiazepines and marijuana.

Each time, Matthews signed a co-sleep plan prohibiting her from sleeping in the same bed with the baby.

Earlier, in 2008, Matthews surrendered custody of her 11-year-old daughter when the paternal grandmother was granted temporary custody.

Matthews has also had two protective injunctions filed against her by the father of her baby in August 2012 and another in April 2011. Both were dismissed.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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