CLAYTON, Mo. – A St. Louis County judge denied bond for a woman charged with child endangerment after a toddler she was babysitting died in March 2023 of a drug overdose.
At Thursday’s hearing, defense attorney Bobby Bailey said his client, Mary Curtis, is six months pregnant and should be released on a personal recognizance bond until trial. Bailey said the St. Louis County Jail cannot provide adequate care for a pregnant woman, and that both the jail and county could be facing lawsuits if anything were to happen to the unborn child.
Bailey said Curtis is an addict and more of a danger to herself than the community, and that, if released, she would stay with relatives until her trial.
The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Curtis with one count of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child – death of a child. A 17-month-old child died March 20 while in Curtis’ custody.
Police claim Curtis was responsible for watching a friend’s toddler. Another child indicated that the 17-month-old had fallen asleep on the floor. Curtis then took the toddler to another home, where they called 911 over concerns for the child’s safety.
The toddler was rushed to a local hospital and pronounced dead. A toxicology report said the toddler had fentanyl, as well as the veterinarian tranquilizer xylazine, in her system, which caused her death.
Prosecutor John Schlesinger argued Curtis was a flight risk and that her prior history of child negligence proves she’s a danger to others.
Curtis was already on bond for another fatal drug overdose involving a child in St. Louis City, and had an ankle monitor at the time of the 17-month-old’s death, Schlesinger said. The prosecutor added she’s well-known among Missouri Children’s Division employees.
Schlesinger said Curtis had eight children over the years. In January 2020, she had twin girls who were born several months premature and died shortly after being born. Schlesinger said Curtis had been taking drugs during the pregnancy, and read from a police report filed at the time, in which Curtis told an officer, “I had God take them. I’m not gonna lie.”
Two other kids are in state custody, including one who, in Schlesinger’s words, suffers developmental delays due to to prolonged exposure to methadone, fentanyl, morphine, and cocaine.
Two of Curtis’ kids have been adopted.
Curtis also had a 15-year-old daughter who died earlier this year after being shot in south St. Louis.
During a rebuttal, Bailey described Curtis’ pregnancy as “high-risk” and said nurses at the jail said she could face complications. Those nurses were not present in the courtroom.
Schlesinger countered that many female inmates have safely given birth in custody.
Judge Bruce Hilton ruled Curtis’ judgment has been impaired over the years because of her addiction, and that keeping Curtis in custody would be in the best interests of both her and the unborn child.