UTAH – Police are investigating the death of 1-year-old girl who died from an apparent heroin overdose in Provo, according to four warrant affidavits unsealed Tuesday in 4th District Court.
On Dec. 2, 2015, police and paramedics responded to the Provo residence of David and Sina Belgard, 509 W. 1800 North, where the 1-year-old child, Penny Cormani, was found unresponsive. At that time, according to the warrant affidavits, police also found “numerous items of drug paraphernalia” inside the home.
The child’s mother, 32-year-old Cassandra Leydsman Richards, reported feeding Penny and doing laundry as her daughter played in the downstairs front living room, according to court documents.
Richards then put Penny down for a nap upstairs around 11 a.m. with a bottle of about 3 oz. of vitamin D milk.
“Cassandra went to check on Penny at noon and found that she had purple or blue lips and was not responding,” according to the affidavits.
Richards told police she took Penny downstairs, attempted CPR and called 911. Paramedics arrived and transported the toddler to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, where she was later pronounced dead.
“Tests returned from the autopsy indicated that Penny had a lethal amount of heroin and that codeine was also present,” the warrants stated.
The day before Penny’s death, the Belgard’s had allowed Penny’s father, 30-year-old Casey Joseph Cormani, as well as Richards and Penny, to stay in their Provo home, according to the warrants.
Both couples have drug-related criminal records, according to Utah Court documents.
During a search of the Belagard’s residence after Penny’s death, authorities found “numerous items of drug paraphernalia, including burnt foil with residue and straws with burnt ends and residue.
“Burnt foil with residue and burnt straws were found inside of the room that Cassandra and Casey stayed in,” the warrant read, “both on the ground and among Cassandra’s personal belongings. Burnt straws were also found in the living area downstairs on the carpet and on a coffee table.”
“Also found downstairs in the common area was a razor blade on an end table that had a white residue on one side,” police wrote. “All of the identified paraphernalia was seen in plain sight. Burnt foil was found in the trash can of the common and only bathroom in the apartment.”
According to the warrant, David Belgard told authorities he had seen Richards and Cormani using the straws to inhale their prescriptions.
Despite the evidence found by police, Penny’s parents denied any illicit drug use. They told detectives they “consume their medications orally as prescribed,” according to the affidavits, and that the drug paraphernalia found in the house belonged to the Belagard’s.
While no one has yet been arrested or charged in connection with the child’s death, warrants were served on both couples and investigators obtained samples of blood and hair follicles to be tested for drugs.
Other drug-related charges
According to court documents, on Dec. 4, two days after Penny’s death, Lehi Police responded to the scene of a reported drug overdose where Casey Cormani was present, according to charging documents.
When Casey Cormani’s sister went to pick him up at the scene, she refused to take him if he had any drugs on him. Cormani then pulled burned tin foil with “some black tar substance” from his pockets. Police also found syringes and heroin in his backpack and sock, according to a probable cause statement. Cormani told officers the items belonged to the overdose victim and that he took them so police wouldn’t discover them.
Joseph Cormani was charged in 4th District Court with third-degree felony possession or use of heroin, class B misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, and class A misdemeanor obstructing justice.
On Dec. 5, Richards was charged with use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.
According to 43-year-old David Belgard’s warrant affidavit, he “has been arrested and/or convicted for charges including DUI, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of heroin, amphetamine and marijuana, false information to police, resisting arrest and many other charges.”
Sina Belgard, 49, “has been arrested or convicted for charges including DUI, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of heroin and forged prescriptions,” according to another warrant affidavit.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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