A 3rd District Court judge Monday dropped the charges against a father who was forced to give his infant daughter back to her mother and boyfriend, who were suspected of being drug users.

The child died eight days later after ingesting a bag of methamphetamine left lying around the house.

Cole Morrow forcibly took his 5-month-old daughter, Estella Lacey, from her birth mother's home in Salt Lake City on Dec. 18. He feared the infant was in danger because of the conditions in the house where she was living. He took his daughter back to his home in Nevada.

According to Morrow's attorney, Lonn Litchfield, a Salt Lake juvenile court judge ordered Morrow to return the girl to her mother and a Nevada judge enforced the ruling.

Estella was returned Dec. 20. She died Dec. 28.

Police say neither Mary Joyce Lacey, 22, nor Raymond Daniel Chesley, 43, called 911 after Estella ate the drugs — nor while she suffered through several hours of a violent reaction to the drug. They then took the infant's body from the Taylorsville home where she died to a home in Murray before calling police, according to investigators.

Lacey and Chesley were charged in 3rd District Court with desecration of a dead body, a third-degree felony. Chesley was also charged with child endangerment, a first-degree felony.

But in addition, Morrow was charged in 3rd District Court with assault and felony burglary for forcibly taking his daughter to Nevada. Last week, a motion was filed to have the charges dropped. Monday, a judge signed the motion.

"He's ecstatic. He's really happy justice has happened for him," said Litchfield. "He's been through the wringer."

The Salt Lake District Attorney's Office dropped the case, according to Litchfield, because its two witnesses in the case were Lacey and Chesley. Because of their current legal situation, Litchfield said they apparently were no longer considered credible witnesses.


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