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2 charged with murder for 1-year-old's fentanyl overdose at day care

A day care owner and her tenant were charged with murder, manslaughter and other crimes after children overdosed on fentanyl at the facility.
2 charged with murder for 1-year-old's fentanyl overdose at daycare
Posted at 2:31 PM, Sep 18, 2023

Two people have been charged after a baby died and three other young children were hospitalized from apparent fentanyl exposure at a New York City day care center Friday.

New York City police responded to the Bronx-based Divino Niño Daycare after receiving calls about children not waking up after nap time. They arrived to find a 1-year-old, Nicholas Dominici, unconscious along with a 2-year-old boy and an 8-month-old girl. Responders administered Narcan to all three children after suspecting opioid involvement.

Dominici was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after. The other two children, along with another 2-year-old boy whose mother noticed he was "acting lethargic and unresponsive" after leaving the facility, were hospitalized for fentanyl interaction, with all three in critical or stable condition by Saturday.

That's when police arrested the day care's owner, Grei Mendez, as well as her tenant, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, and charged them both with murder and attempted murder showing "depraved indifference."

SEE MORE: Baby dies at daycare of suspected opioid exposure, 3 kids hospitalized

Mendez opened the day care, which is registered under the city's Department of Children and Family Services, in January and passed multiple inspections, including a surprise visit made a week before the tragedy.

But upon investigating the scene Friday, police found a kilogram of fentanyl, including some underneath a mat where the children had been sleeping. They also found three kilo presses, which are typically used to package and combine illegal narcotics, in a closet, police said Monday.

Police also said they have reason to believe further incriminating items were removed from the apartment after authorities had been notified about the unconscious children.

When pleading not guilty to the charges Sunday, Mendez maintained she had no knowledge of the opioid's presence in the Bronx apartment that housed the business and the room she rented to Brito, her husband's cousin.

Brito is awaiting arraignment, but both continue to be held without bail as of Monday after a judge determined they were both flight risks.

During a press conference Monday, Mayor Eric Adams spoke of how little an amount of fentanyl could lead to an overdose for an adult and how it would be even smaller for a child. He said Narcan "probably saved the lives" of the three hospitalized children.

"You cannot be a parent and not be angry about what happened to those four babies. I am," Adams said.

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