Bangor, ME – A Maine mother accused of killing her toddler by rubbing heroin on her gums to make her sleep was released from jail on her own recognizance on Wednesday.
Kimberly Nelligan, 33, has been charged with misdemeanor offenses of child endangerment and drug possession in connection with her daughter’s death one year ago, the Bangor Daily News reported.
During her court appearance on Wednesday, Nelligan mouthed vulgar phrases and made obscene gestures at reporters, WCSH reported.
She pleaded not guilty, and was not required to pay anything in order to walk out of jail.
Nelligan’s one-year-old daughter, Jordynn, was already dead when first responders arrived at Nelligan’s parents’ home on Oct. 10, 2018, for a report of a child who was not breathing, the Bangor Daily News reported.
The toddler’s body was transported to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, where it was ultimately determined that she died from acute fentanyl intoxication.
The Maine medical examiner’s office told investigators that Jordynn would have had to have directly ingested the drug in order for it to kill her, the Bangor Daily News reported.
The synthetic opioid, which can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, is often mixed with heroin to increase the “euphoric effects” of the drug, according to the New York Post.
Nelligan initially denied having used opioids, but later confessed that she was snorting heroin weekly for approximately two months before her daughter died, according to police, the Bangor Daily News reported.
The little girl’s father, Shane Smith, told investigators that he saw Nelligan rub the powder on their baby’s gums approximately 15 times during that two-month period in order to help Jordynn with sleep and stomach upset, WCSH reported.
Smith said that Nelligan had done the same thing with her two older children when they were babies, and that she had not intended to harm their daughter, according to the Bangor Daily News.
District Attorney Marianne Lynch declined to comment on whether or not Smith could face charges in connection with Jordynn’s death.
Lynch said that the Maine Attorney General’s Office prosecutes murder offenses and that her office has been in contact with them about Jordynn’s case.
“These are very serious, very difficult cases, and in some instances the law isn’t really designed to address issues like this,” Lynch told the Bangor Daily News. “If things change at some point, there is still a possibility for other charges to come forward, but at this point these are the charges we are confident we can go forward with.”
She explained that Maine does not have a felony-level child endangerment law.
The judge released Nelligan on her own recognizance, and ordered her to have no unsupervised contact with minors, WCSH reported.
She was also prohibited from having contact with Smith, and must abstain from drugs, with the exception of marijuana.
Nelligan faces up to one year in jail if she is convicted of misdemeanor child endangerment, the Bangor Daily News reported.
She faces up to 180 days in jail if she is convicted of the drug offense.
Nelligan’s next court appearance has been scheduled for Nov. 12.