Woman pleads guilty to manslaughter charge after son dies from ingesting fentanyl

A woman whose 3-year-old son died in 2020 with fentanyl in his system has pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter.

Queenetta Jeanette McDaniel, 35, also had fentanyl in her system when police arrived, according to a blood sample that was cited in court documents.

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West St. Paul police officers responded to an apartment on the morning of Dec. 7, 2020, when they got reports of a child not breathing. The child was then taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The criminal complaint states that McDaniel told officers she and her child had been asleep on the couch. When she woke up to use the bathroom, she realized the child wasn’t breathing and appeared to have vomited.

Investigators then learned that another one of the residents was suspected of selling narcotics, including fentanyl, out of the home. Police also observed that McDaniel appeared to be under the influence while at the hospital, and a warrant was obtained to get a sample of her blood. It was then discovered she had fentanyl in her system.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the boy’s blood also had a high concentration of fentanyl and ruled his cause of death as acute fentanyl toxicity. There were no other injuries or contributing factors in the child’s death, according to the criminal complaint.

Witnesses also told officers that McDaniel was a heavy drug user at the time of the child’s death and that she was smoking fentanyl while staying in the apartment. Investigators reported finding several pieces of drug paraphernalia inside.

Court records show a jury trial previously scheduled to begin next week has been canceled, and her sentencing date is set for Feb. 14, 2024. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.