Crime

Woman accused of breastfeeding while on methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana

A woman accused of breastfeeding her 2-year-old daughter methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana was in jail Tuesday.

Iuni Moana Malo, 34, pleaded not guilty to a charge of endangerment with a controlled substance.

She was released on her own recognizance last month, pending trial, but she failed to appear for a hearing. She scheduled another hearing and officers booked her back into the Pierce County Jail on Monday.

Court Commissioner Meagan Foley reset her bail at $25,000.

Charging papers and Tacoma police give this account:

Malo had been staying in a motel with a man she’d recently met who offered to let her and the toddler live there for free.

She left the girl alone with the man July 23, and when she came back, she smoked crack with him in the bathroom as her daughter slept. She later woke the toddler to breastfeed.

The next day, she smoked meth and crack, leaving the bathroom door open so she could see the girl, she told investigators. She also opened the front door of the motel room to give the toddler fresh air, she said.

The woman smoked “a blunt” — court documents don’t say containing what — before she left to go to the hospital, breastfeeding the girl again on the bus.

Her main reason for seeking medical attention, she said, was that she thought she had taken some bad drugs and was worried about pain in her stomach and leg after smoking them.

After she told hospital staff members she’d been smoking drugs, they checked the child, who tested positive for meth, cocaine and marijuana. Police put the child into protective custody and arrested Malo.

As part of her request to get a new attorney, she wrote a letter to the court, stating she’s a single parent of eight children, seven of whom are cared for by her mother and other family members.

The 2-year-old she cared for herself, when she could, Malo said.

“I can admit having made poor choices in my addiction regarding my role as a mother,” she wrote. “I tried, your honor, to be the best mother to my two-year-old (daughter). I was homeless for this last year, and God’s grace allowed us to be together on and off.”

She wrote that the experience was a “wake-up call,” and said she wanted to seek treatment for her addiction, pursue education, find a job, pay taxes, take part in church activities and start youth programs.

“All of my children’s fathers are absent and refuse to take responsibility for their children,” she wrote. “I’ve been no better through these years, your honor, and a felony will only make things worse.”

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