The mother of a 21-month-old New Hampshire girl who died after ingesting fentanyl at a truck stop in 2020 pleaded guilty to negligent homicide Monday and was sentenced to eight to 20 years in prison.
Shawna Cote, 30, didn’t speak at her sentencing but wiped her eyes with a tissue as family members addressed a judge about the loss of her daughter, Adalynn. They said the child is missed by many, including her older sister, who referred to her as "Babyheart," a relative said. She was nearly 5 years old when Adalynn died.
"The hardest part for me is knowing that she will forever live with the pain of losing her baby sister, and there’s nothing on this earth I could do to take her pain away," her aunt, Mechelle Rodriguez, said. Cote’s son, who was born after Adalynn died, "will know of her," Rodriguez said.
Cote pleaded guilty in a plea agreement, also admitting to falsifying evidence and endangering the welfare of a child. Adalynn’s father, Mark Geremia, who pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide and other charges, is scheduled to go to trial, and a friend who was with them plans to to plead guilty to a reckless conduct charge.
Police said the three adults, Adalynn and her sister went to the Londonderry truck stop in their pickup truck to rest after trading an ATV in Massachusetts for what they thought was heroin. The adults used the drug and fell asleep. A police investigation later showed evidence of fentanyl in the truck.
Previous coverage of the case
When they woke up, Adalynn was not conscious. Cote tried to give an opioid-overdose antidote to Adalynn, and then got out of the vehicle with her other daughter and walked away, police said.
A witness said Geremia performed CPR on Adalynn, but then stopped at one point to smoke a cigarette.
Cote has a criminal record that includes theft, forgery and drunken driving cases. Her lawyer noted that is involved in drug treatment recovery efforts. If she successfully completes her programs, she could be eligible for parole after her minimum term. A separate sentence of at least 3 1/2 years on the evidence charge would remain suspended if she remains on good behavior.
Cote’s parents said in a statement read in court that they believed she will be able to improve herself and that they have seen her remorse. Another family member questioned whether she would succeed in a drug recovery program.
"There’s no way out unless you want to get out," Judge David Ruoff said.