Pubdate: Fri, 14 Jun 2002
Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)
Copyright: 2002 The Star-Journal Publishing Corp.
Author: Patrick Malone, The Pueblo Chieftain
Bookmark: (Oxycontin)


Pueblo police are investigating the June 2 drug overdose death of a baby as 
a "suspicious death," according to detective Mike Bethel of the crimes 
against children unit.

Toxicology results received by the Pueblo County coroner's office on 
Thursday showed that Devon Jace-Riley Radok had lethal levels of oxycodone, 
a narcotic found in painkillers, in his system, according to Coroner James 
Kramer. The infant was 10 1/2 months old.

Initial autopsy results were inconclusive, and sudden infant death syndrome 
was suspected, Kramer said. However, on the day he died, illegal narcotics 
were found at the apartment of Devon's mother, Jennifer Radok, 20, who 
lives in the 4000 block of O'Neal Avenue, according to Bethel, prompting 
the toxicology tests that revealed the cause of his death.

None of the illegal substances was found in the baby's system, and no 
medications containing oxycodone were found in Radok's apartment, Bethel said.

The lethal threshold for oxycodone in the blood is about 500 nanograms, 
according to Kramer. The child had 708 nanograms in his bloodstream, 
according to a report prepared by Werner Jenkins, a forensic toxicologist 
with the El Paso County coroner's office.

"The threshold for toxicity is relative to size and weight of a patient, as 
well as dosage," Kramer said. "The standard probably wasn't developed with 
children in mind because (oxycodone) is not recommended for infants."

Most drugs that include oxycodone are not recommended to children under age 
18, Bethel said.

"There's no reason for a child of this age to have this kind of drug in his 
system," the detective said.

Police are exploring how the child got the medication. His maternal 
grandmother was on a prescription medication that contained oxycodone, but 
investigators are not sure whether that was the source of the drug, Bethel 

Radok, her boyfriend and one of her sisters were around Devon most, 
according to the detective.

Signs that the baby took pills in their complete form or in large pieces 
were not evident during the autopsy, Kramer said. The child's metabolic 
system already had begun to break down the medication, he said.

"The question is: How did this child ingest this medication?" Kramer said.

Bethel said the possibility that Devon took the pills on his own by 
accident has not been ruled out, but seems unlikely because a child's 
natural reaction would be to spit out the bitter morsels.

At this early juncture in the investigation, Bethel said it is too soon to 
tell whether the medication was administered maliciously or accidentally.

"At this point, all I'm certain of is that we're conducting a very serious 
investigation into a very suspicious death," Bethel said.
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