West St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - Despite objections from prosecutors, a Dakota County judge has granted a downward departure from state sentencing guidelines in the case of a woman convicted of manslaughter for the drug overdose death of her young son.

36-year-old Queenetta Jeanette McDaniel entered a guilty plea to the second-degree manslaughter charge last July. She was charged in April 2022 after little Amier McDaniel was found dead in an apartment in West St. Paul. According to the criminal complaint against his mother, an autopsy determined the child's death was caused by acute fentanyl toxicity.

Dakota County Sheriff's Office
McDaniel - Dakota County Sheriff's Office

The court document indicates witnesses told police that McDaniel was "a heavy and habitual user of illicit drugs, including fentanyl." The witnesses also reported that she had been using drugs, including smoking fentanyl, while she and her son were staying at the West St. Paul residence.

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Following the boy's death, investigators obtained a search warrant for a sample of her blood and testing found that it contained fentanyl and a metabolite of the potent opioid.

Pattanaphong Khuankaew
Pattanaphong Khuankaew

In granting her the downward departure, the judge cited a presentence investigation that found her particularly amenable to probation and treatment. It also noted that she shows remorse and accepts responsibility. McDaniel was given a stayed four-year prison sentence and was placed on probation for four years.

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