Pennsylvania Mother Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter Following Daughter’s Fatal Overdose

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HARRISBURG, PA — A mother from Cambria County, Pennsylvania has pleaded guilty to charges relating to the tragic overdose death of her five-year-old daughter. The shocking incident occurred in 2023, and the plea was announced by Attorney General Michelle Henry.

27-year-old Volaura Askew admitted on Monday to charges of involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of a child, and recklessly endangering another person. The plea agreement saw Askew handed a sentence of two to four years in state prison.

The case has sent shockwaves through the community, with Attorney General Henry stating, “This tragedy will have long-lasting impacts on the community and the many people who loved this young girl — and all that devastation was caused by the choices and actions of her own mother.”

A joint investigation by the Office of Attorney General, Johnstown Police Department, Cambria County District Attorney’s Office, and the Cambria County Coroner’s Office unveiled the grim details of the case. It was discovered that Askew had exposed her five-year-old daughter to the lethal drug cocktail of fentanyl and heroin. An autopsy later confirmed that the little girl died from a fentanyl overdose.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine and is often mixed with other drugs like heroin to increase their potency. Its deadly nature lies in its ability to quickly suppress breathing, potentially leading to death.

Two other individuals, Albert Spicer and Elyse Young, both from Johnstown, also face charges related to drug-dealing offenses in connection with the case. Investigators found that Spicer supplied the illegal drugs. Askew had been staying at Young’s home, which Spicer allegedly used as a stash house after his release from prison.

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On the night before the tragic incident, Askew and Young had used fentanyl and heroin in the presence of the five-year-old and her six-year-old sister.

The next day, on October 27, 2022, the younger child was found lifeless in her bedroom by her older sister. After being taken back to their own home by Young, the night ended in unimaginable tragedy for the two young girls.

The prosecuting attorney for the case was Deputy Attorney General David Gorman. This heartbreaking case serves as a stark reminder of the deadly threat posed by drugs like fentanyl and heroin, not just to users but to innocent bystanders, including children.

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