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Long Delay in Calling 911 Described in Mother's Trial Over Baby's Drug Death

An ex-roommate says he made the call only after hiding drug evidence.

August 15, 2003|Joy Woodson | Times Staff Writer

The former roommate of a Perris woman on trial for the methamphetamine death of her infant son testified Thursday that no one in the house called 911 for at least an hour after the boy's lifeless body was discovered.

Amy Prien is charged with killing 3-month-old Jacob Wesley Smith by allowing him to ingest meth, possibly through breastfeeding. The prosecutor described Prien as a heavy drug user and said the county coroner found significant amounts of methamphetamine in Jacob's body.

During the second day of testimony, former roommate Don Fox told jurors that on July 19, 2002, he found the baby after he heard a commotion outside his bedroom and came out to see what had happened.

"I picked him up to make sure that he was not breathing, that he was dead," Fox said. "He was purple, blue, discolored, dead."

Fox said he yelled to a couple of Prien's house guests to call 911, but no one responded. He said he placed the call more than an hour later after he cleaned the house of drug paraphernalia and dragged a safe used to hold Prien's amphetamine supply and drug money to one of her other children's rooms. During that time, Prien lay in the living room, visibly upset, he said.

Fox said he may have seen Prien breastfeed Jacob at least once but that a blanket covered the baby and he couldn't tell. He said Prien told him to mind his own business when he asked what she was doing.

Yagman asked Fox whether he was the one responsible for the baby's death. Fox replied, "I only felt responsible."

The trial resumes Monday.

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