BOLIVAR, Mo. A Bolivar woman accused of causing the death of her 15 year-old son is no longer facing a murder charge but still faces legal troubles.
41 year-old Danielle Baker had been charged with second degree murder after the former registered nurse at a Citizens Memorial Healthcare Facility was accused of supplying liquid morphine and other controlled substances to her 15 year-old son, who died of an overdose on March 20th at Bakers home in the 600 block of West Broadway.
The morphine was traced back to a prescription for a patient who had died at the healthcare facility, and detectives said Baker admitted to taking the morphine from work.
But now the second degree murder charge against Baker has been dropped by a Polk Co. circuit judge based on a new statute that was originally designed to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic by helping those who overdosed be less fearful of facing prosecution if they needed to call for medical help.
"If someone had O.D.'d or if someone was there and observed someone else O.D.'ing often times they were so scared or nervous or worried to be arrested themselves or get in further trouble legally-speaking that they simply wouldn't call law enforcement," explained Springfield criminal defense attorney Adam Woody. "And that led to deaths in many of those situations."
The new law allows those who overdose or someone on their behalf to call for medical help without fear of criminal retribution. And in Baker's case, she called 9-1-1 to report her son's emergency.
"Because the judge found that, under this new immunity law, that the person who O.D.'d had immunity and the person who called on their behalf had immunity, there was no felony technically committed," Woody said.
Baker still faces other felony charges though including stealing a controlled substance, tampering with physical evidence and endangerment of a child.
"And the endangering is the equivalent of a murder charge anyway," Woody said. "It's a class A felony. So in this specific instance she won the battle by getting the murder charge dismissed but the war wages on."
Baker is being held in the Polk Co. jail on $150,000 bond and her next court hearing is scheduled for August 13.