Father indicted in fentanyl death of toddler

May 12—A 34-year-old Sloan man is now facing a manslaughter charge related to the fentanyl ingestion death of his toddler son. The child's mother was indicted on the same charge earlier in the week.

Joseph A. Smith of Sloan was arraigned Friday before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case on an indictment charging him with one count of second-degree manslaughter (Class "C" felony).

Rachael L. Alicea was arraigned Wednesday before State Supreme Court Justice Paul B. Wojtaszek on an indictment charging her with one count of second-degree manslaughter (Class "C" felony).

Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Keane said on the afternoon of Nov. 19, police and paramedics responded to a residence on the 2200 block of William Street in the Town of Cheektowaga for a report of a child who was not breathing. Alicea's 15-month-old son, Theodore Alicea Smith, was taken by ambulance to Sisters Hospital St. Joseph Campus where he died later the same day.

The Erie County Medical Examiner's Office determined that the toddler died from acute fentanyl intoxication. Alicea is accused of recklessly causing the death of her child by exposing the toddler to fentanyl inside of the home.

Smith was held on bail set at $200,000 cash or bond. Alicea was released on a $100,000 bond. Both defendants are scheduled to return before Judge Case on May 13 for a pre-trial conference.

If convicted of the charge, Smith and Alicea face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

"This is a very sad case where a child tragically lost his young life, but it is a crime that could have been prevented. I will continue to warn the public about the dangers of fentanyl as this deadly substance can be found in any illicit drug. No child should be exposed to any drug. I encourage anyone struggling with substance abuse disorder, especially those who have children, to seek help immediately," Keane said.

Added Cheektowaga Police Captain Jeffrey Schmidt, "We are proud of all our officers and how they responded to this very serious investigation. Especially Cheektowaga Police Detective Derby and Lieutenant Albrecht who through a long and thorough investigation and combined effort with our partners at the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office, Central Police Services, and the District Attorney's Office have brought this case one step closer to finding justice."

The case is being prosecuted by Chief Ashley M. Morgan of the Felony Trials Bureau.