BELFAST, Maine — Police say Katrina Mitchell was passed out on her couch, too drunk and high to hear whether her 7-month-old daughter cried out when the family Rottweiler fatally attacked the baby last April.
On Friday, Mitchell pleaded not guilty to endangering the welfare of a child during a videoconference in Belfast District Court from Two Bridges Regional Jail, where she is being held in lieu of $1,000 bail. She was arrested Wednesday night.
It was about 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, when Mitchell started drinking beer and possibly vodka, according to a police affidavit filed in court and released Friday.
Tests done later that night showed her blood alcohol level to be about .30, almost four times the legal driving limit in Maine. She also tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
By about 5 that night she had passed out on her couch, according to the affidavit written by Maine State Police Detective Adam Kelley.
Mitchell told police that she did not pass out, but simply had taken a nap with her baby at the other end of the couch.
Her son Jett, who is almost 3, also was in the home at the time.
When Mitchell woke up around 7 p.m., her baby was dead on the floor, purple and cold with claw marks and possibly bite marks from an attack by the family’s Rottweiler, Hannibal. She called 911.
When police arrived at the Frankfort home “[A first responder] and I had to help [Mitchell] walk by holding up her arms,” Maine State Police Trooper Jonah O’Roak wrote in his report, which is quoted in the affidavit. “It was very clear that she was heavily under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.”
Police said Mitchell was combative that evening, that she hit and kicked the medical staff, and that they had to restrain her.
The mother swore to police that the beer she drank before what she said was a nap with her daughter had nothing to do with her child’s death.
“[She was] at a high level of intoxication at the time she was caring for her children [which] diminished her ability to detect and react to any safety concerns,” the detective wrote.
The mother didn’t hear Annabelle scream, but the medical examiner said the baby likely did cry out.
“The number of claw marks on Annabelle Mitchell’s body were extensive and could not be the result of one or two brief contacts between the dog and Annabelle,” wrote Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Michael Ferenc, who conducted the autopsy. He said the wounds showed the baby was “alive for at least part of the mauling, and she would have been capable of crying and/or screaming due to pain.”
This wasn’t the first time the mother had passed out drunk while her baby needed her, Mitchell told police. She said there were two or three occasions when she had gotten drunk and passed out, only to wake up when the baby cried. But she said that hadn’t happened for a few months.
Mitchell’s husband, Johnny, told police that his wife has a drinking problem. She had promised him not to drink unless he was around. But when he got home from work after learning his daughter was dead, he told police it was clear his wife was drunk again.
At his request, police shot the dog.
Endangering the welfare of a child is a Class D misdemeanor crime that is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
According to discussions between attorneys in court Friday, it also appears there is at least one Department of Health and Human Services case open against Mitchell. But because of confidentiality laws, DHHS officials cannot discuss such cases — or even verify that there is a case against Mitchell.
Mitchell’s attorney indicated during arguments for lower bail that his client was not a flight risk since she did not want to lose her son.