Mother accused of poisoning baby with meth will face jury
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SALMON — A mother accused of poisoning her 6-month-old daughter with methamphetamine will stand trial.
Heather Elam of Salmon sobbed during most of the seven-hour preliminary hearing in which 7th District Judge Stephen Clark ruled there was enough evidence to proceed on a first-degree murder charge.
Elam’s 6-month-old, Serenity Gail Elmore, died Jan. 14, 2015. Police reports show the baby died from a massive methamphetamine overdose, allegedly administered by Elam.
During the hearing Tuesday, Elam was visibly upset. At one point she requested a break because she said she felt sick as autopsy reports were discussed.
Lemhi County Prosecutor Bruce Withers called several witnesses, including two Lemhi County sheriff deputies, Idaho State Police detectives and medical professionals.
Lemhi Deputy Dave Morelli told the court he was the first on scene following a frantic 911 call by Elam.
Morelli testified that when he arrived at the home where Elam was staying, he attempted first aid on the child.
“I did chest compressions until the ambulance arrived,” Morelli testified. “(Then) I carried her out and put her in the arms on the paramedics.”
“The child’s arms were cold, her fist clenched, but her body seemed to still be warm,” paramedic Janet Nelson testified. “I checked the child’s pupils, and I observed one to be the size of a pinhole.”
Salmon resident Robert Parker was also called to testify. Serenity’s death took place in Parker’s trailer home.
Parker, who is currently serving jail time on a probation violation, said Elam had been living with him. He admitted that the night before Serenity’s death, he, Elam and a friend, Michelle McCormick, smoked meth in a bathroom at Elam’s mother’s home. Serenity was present at the time. Parker testified that Elam used meth at least once a day.
McCormick, who is also being held in the Lemhi County Jail, corroborated Parker’s version of events. McCormick added that she provided the pipe that meth was smoked in.
Investigators found meth in a bottle of Dimetapp and in a baby’s bottle. Meth and Dimetapp were also found in the child’s stomach, urine and blood.
Susan Flower (also known as Susan Carpenter), a frequent babysitter for Elam, testified Elam was an “inattentive mom.” Flower said Elam would sometimes leave her child with the sitter “for days at a time.”
Serenity was with Flower the nights of Jan. 11 and 12. Flower testified Elam asked if Flower would watch the child longer, but Flower declined. Flower noted Elam appeared to be “coming down” from meth. Flower said she knew because of personal experience.
A medical professional was also called to testify. Gary Dawson, Ph.D., explained to the court how methamphetamine is absorbed in the human body.
“When someone takes methamphetamine, it would typically be one to two hours before it could be detected in urine,” Dawson said. “There is no medical reason in this world to give a 6-month-old methamphetamine.”
An Idaho State Police detective testified that fingerprints could not be found on the Dimetapp bottle or the baby’s bottle.
Elam did not testify at the hearing, but she repeatedly spoke with her mother and family who were present in the courtroom.
After seven hours of testimony, Clark ruled the case be bound over to district court.
“I find the suspect had access to meth, used methamphetamine and the child died as a result of a methamphetamine overdose,” Clark said before binding Elam over.
Elam will be back in court on April 21 to be arraigned on the first-degree murder charge.