VERDICT: Toddler Suffered Permanent Injuries in Bath when Mom Left to Smoke Marijuana

A Lancaster woman was convicted this week of causing her daughter’s permanent injuries when the child nearly drowned in a bathtub in 2008 – her mother having left her alone to smoke marijuana.

A Lancaster County jury convicted 32-year-old Jaquia Morales on Wednesday of felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor endangering.

Morales will be sentenced after a background investigation is completed in a couple of months.

Morales was charged last year – about 10 years after the incident – when a letter surfaced in which Morales admitted to leaving her daughter, who was 2 at the time, to “stupidly [smoke] weed.”

Assistant District Attorney Karen Mansfield presented evidence at the three-day trial that the girl nearly drowned on Nov. 22, 2008. Her lungs were filled with water and she sustained brain damage.

Yet, according to testimony, Morales did not call 911 or tell first responders what really happened.

The girl, now 13 and living with her adopted family, cannot walk on her own or speak and her vision is severely impaired.

ADA Mansfield argued to jurors that Morales was “willing to trade her daughter’s life” to protect her own, by not calling 911 and lying about what happened.

The victim’s grandmother called 911 after noticing a gurgling sound from the girl. Even then, Morales minimized to the grandmother what happened to the girl.

Doctors testified that the girl would have died, had the grandmother not called 911.

ADA Mansfield showed jurors a letter Morales wrote to her daughter years after the incident. The girl passed the letter to a relative, who presented it to police.

In the letter, Morales admits to leaving the girl in the bathtub as she left to smoke marijuana.

“I just wanted to write you and let you know what really happened to you,” the letter reads.

“I went and stupidly smoked weed,” Morales wrote later in the letter.

Morales gave police a different version of events when she was interviewed after the incident.

A doctor testified that the girl’s injuries were caused by the near-drowning incident. Several other medical professionals, including the girl’s current neurologist, also testified.

Lancaster city police Detective Heather Halstead filed charges. Chris DePatto, the original investigator who is now retired, also sat in court for the trial.

Morales is at Lancaster County Prison on $250,000 bail.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; bhambright@co.lancaster.pa.us; Twitter: @BrettHambright