A Lancaster woman is charged with leaving her 2-year-old daughter unattended in a bathtub – while the woman smoked marijuana – causing the girl to nearly drown to death and suffer permanent, debilitating injuries.
Lancaster city police filed aggravated assault and endangering charges last month, 10 years after the incident on East Madison Street.
Jaquia Morales, 31, was a wanted fugitive on the charges until surrendering Sept. 5 to authorities in Orlando, Fla.
Morales was extradited to Lancaster County and arraigned Tuesday. Bail was set at $250,000 and has not been posted.
The girl, now 12 and living with an adopted family, drown in the bathtub on Nov. 22, 2008 and suffers from adult respiratory distress syndrome. Her lungs were filled with water and she sustained brain damage.
A forensic pathologist submitted a report in August which led to charges. The report notes that the victim’s injuries were caused by the near-drowning incident on Nov. 22, 2008.
Also crucial to the filing of charges, Morales wrote a letter to her daughter years later, which she passed to her son and was turned over to police.
In the letter, Morales admits to leaving the girl in the bathtub as she left to smoke marijuana.
“I just wanted to write you and let you know what really happened to you,” the letter reads.
“I went and stupidly smoked weed,” Morales writes later in the letter.
Police interviewed Morales after the incident in 2008 and she gave a different version of events, not mentioning the marijuana or the girl being in the bathtub.
Lancaster city police Detective Heather Halstead filed charges. Assistant District Attorney Karen Mansfield approved the charges.
Morales is presumed innocent.
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