|Coco Wallace as he is led to a constable vehicle|
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Middletown man charged in narcotic painkiller overdose death of toddler son
Posted: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
A 38-year-old Middletown man faces a homicide charge in the October overdose death of his 27-month-old son, who authorities say ingested enough prescription painkillers to kill an adult.
“I don’t think it was an accident,” Middletown police Chief Joseph Bartorilla said at a news conference at police headquarters announcing the arrest.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said the motivation for the crime will be revealed later.
“What was going through his mind, how the poison was ingested, is a matter for trial,” Heckler said. “The fact remains that child had a massive dose of oxycodone.”
Coco Kollie Wallace was arraigned Tuesday before District Judge Joanne Kline on criminal homicide, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of children and possession of a controlled substance. He was sent to Bucks County prison without bail.
As he was led into a constable’s vehicle, Wallace repeatedly denied he killed his son.
“I didn’t do nothing. Why would I kill my own son? It don’t make no sense,” he said.
Middletown police began investigating the death of Sebastian Wallace shortly after his father and grandmother brought the toddler to the Lower Bucks Hospital emergency room on Oct. 22, saying the boy was having trouble breathing, police said. The child was pronounced dead a short time later.
The subsequent autopsy found Sebastian’s blood had three times the level of oxycodone needed to kill an average adult. The coroner estimated the child had ingested six 40-milligram tablets of the drug an hour or two before he was taken to the ER.
Authorities say Wallace was the only person with Sebastian in the hours before his death — and he told them different stories about how his son might have ingested the drugs.
After the county coroner’s office contacted Wallace to ask if he had oxycodone unsecured in the house, he called police to say he wanted to talk to them about how the pills had gotten into his son’s system, according to an affidavit.
On Oct. 21, the day before his son’s death, Wallace alleged that several people stopped at his apartment in the 2100 block of Veterans Highway where he lived with Sebastian and his 9-year-old daughter. Wallace’s daughter wasn’t home when her brother ingested the drugs, Chief of Special Victims Lindsay Vaughn said.
Wallace told police a friend named Melvin had pills with him and when Melvin went into a room in the apartment to get a laptop, he was alone with Sebastian for about three minutes, the affidavit said.
“(Wallace) said, thinking back on it, he believes that Melvin may have given Buddy (Sebastian’s nickname) pills,” according to the affidavit.
At some point, Wallace told detectives he had a bag of 40-milligram oxycodone pills he got from Melvin. Earlier this month, Middletown Detective Andrew Amoroso spoke with Melvin Whitfield, the person Wallace said came to his apartment on Oct. 21.
Whitfield, who hasn’t been charged with any crime, told police he gave Wallace two laptops to decide if he wanted to buy them and Wallace gave Whitfield a bag of pills as collateral. Later that same day, Wallace called Whitfield to tell him he didn’t want the computers, so Whitfield said he took the computers back and returned the pills to Wallace, police said.
Wallace said he never brought the pills back into the apartment, the affidavit said. “He said that he didn’t want to tell me (Amoroso) about the pills because ‘I didn’t want to bring suspicious against myself,’ ” court documents said.
Sebastian’s mother, who lives in North Carolina, told police that days after her son’s death, she was with Coco Wallace in Philadelphia. She said Wallace told her he was “changing his ways” and that he had thrown a bag of oxycodone pills he said was worth $1,000 out of his car window earlier that day, according to a probable cause affidavit. Wallace’s girlfriend confirmed his account to police.