Tooele woman pleads guilty in son's methadone-related death

Published: Tuesday, June 17 2014 12:35 p.m. MDT

TOOELE — A Tooele woman whose 2-year-old son died after drinking methadone pleaded guilty to child abuse homicide Tuesday.

Jill Goff, 32, entered the plea to the second-degree felony charge in 3rd District Court, admitting her role in the death of her son, Aiden Laurel Goff. Goff served the child methadone in a sippy cup and told investigators that it was a mistake — that she confused the methadone with Gatorade.

"How it happened was purely an accident, and my daughter's not a monster," Goff's mother, Tami Kennedy, said Tuesday. "She's not a child killer. She's going through hell right now just trying to survive all this."

Goff was arrested Feb. 1, the day after paramedics were called to her home, 485 Oak St., and found the toddler not breathing. He died at the scene.

Several hours later, police were called to Mountain West Medical Center where Goff's 8-year-old son was having health issues. The boy "started breaking out in a rash, and his eyes were swollen," according to a Tooele County Jail booking report.

Tests conducted at the hospital showed that the 8-year-old tested positive for methadone in his system, police said. The boy's 5-year-old sister also was tested as a precaution, and she, too, was found to have methadone in her body.

The siblings told investigators that their mother "fixed a pink drink for the 2-year-old. He didn't like the drink so she had the 5-year-old taste it. She said it was gross. Mrs. Goff had the 8-year-old taste it, and he said it tasted like medicine," the report states.

Kennedy said her daughter used methadone to manage her chronic pain.

"She accepts full well that it was an accident," Kennedy said.

Police said Goff told officers she accidentally poured methadone into a cup rather than Gatorade but didn't immediately call for help because she was scared.

Her inaction after administering the methadone is when Goff's actions became truly reckless, prosecutor Gary Searle said.

"She failed to contact law enforcement. She failed to contact medical personnel," Searle said. "She did some home remedies, like trying to have the child throw up."

Goff was originally charged with child abuse homicide, a second-degree felony. However, additional charges were filed two months later, upgrading the homicide count to a first-degree felony and adding four other charges — two counts of child abuse and two counts of surreptitious administration of a controlled substance, third-degree felonies.

In exchange for Goff's guilty plea, the state agreed she would plead guilty to the original charge of child abuse homicide, a second-degree felony.

"I think it's a fair outcome," Searle said. "I think it's the right outcome."

Goff faces a possible prison sentence of one to 15 years when she is sentenced. That hearing has been set for Aug. 19.

Contributing: Haley Smith

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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