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Farmington • A judge on Wednesday sentenced a Layton woman who pleaded guilty to killing her child with a dose of methadone to prison for up to 30 years.
Courtney Nicole Howell, 27, pleaded guilty in July to one count each of second-degree felony counts of manslaughter and causing a child to be exposed to a controlled substance. In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors amended the charges down from first-degree felonies.
In entering her plea, Howell admitted to giving her fussy daughter an overdose of methadone in hopes it would help her 17-month-old, Jaslynn Mansfield, sleep.
On Wednesday, a tearful Howell said it's a choice she will regret for the rest of her life.
"Trying to forgive myself is an endless battle I struggle with daily," she said, dabbing her tears. "I can't make up my wrong by giving my little girl back her life."
Howell told 2nd District Judge David Hamilton, however, that she would hold herself accountable, learn from her mistakes, ask others for forgiveness and spend the rest of her life working to raise awareness about drug abuse and child endangerment.
"I plan to take every opportunity given to me to help change myself and my life," she said.
Defense attorney Todd Utzinger asked Hamilton to consider concurrent prison terms for Howell, saying she understood the gravity of her actions and has benefited from time in jail, which helped her kick her addiction to drugs and to methadone.
Hamilton, however, sentenced Howell to consecutive terms of one-to-15-year terms, noting that Howell had been reckless in her own life and in the way she cared for her daughter, who was born addicted to methadone.
"The child didn't have a chance," Hamilton said.
Hamilton did allow Howell to turn toward family both her own and Jaslynn's paternal relatives to apologize, saying she didn't expect their forgiveness, but wanted them to know she was deeply sorry.
But family on both sides seemed reluctant to believe Howell, whom they said knew how destructive methadone could be because Jaslynn's father had died from a methadone overdose a few months before the baby was born.
"[Jaslynn] was a piece of my son that we had lost," grandmother Bonnie Carrillo told the court. "It's a challenge to try to keep moving on without her in our life."
An arrest warrant shows Howell called 911 for help on March 14, 2014, when she found her daughter had stopped breathing. The infant was taken to Davis Hospital and Medical Center where she later died. On Wednesday, prosecutors noted that Howell failed to tell medical personnel she had given the child the drug, information that might have help save the child's life.
An autopsy concluded the girl died from "acute methadone toxicity," the warrant states.
A police search of Howell found baby bottles in her bedroom. State crime lab tests on the bottles found one contained methadone. State court records indicate Howell had a prescription for methadone at the time of her child's death.