Shane Smith, 31, of Winterport faces a charge of endangering the welfare of a child, a Class D crime. This is the same charge Kimberly Nelligan, the mother of the 1-year-old who died, faces.
Smith had made arrangements with Bangor police to turn himself in last Friday but he did not keep his appointment.
The District Attorney’s office called his mother’s home in Winterport that day to find out that Smith had left his car and phone behind before driving off in an unknown blue vehicle. On Tuesday, Smith contacted Zachary Smith, a Bangor defense lawyer. The lawyer told the District Attorney’s office that the defendant was trying to collect bail money before turning himself in.
In the past week, Smith had also contacted Nelligan, according to the district attorney’s office.
He turned himself in at the Penobscot County Jail at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, according to Bangor police.
During an initial court appearance Friday afternoon, Smith pleaded not guilty and was released on $1,000 unsecured bail, with conditions that he have no contact with Nelligan, not leave Maine, stay with his parents in Winterport, abide by a curfew, not consume intoxicants and subject himself to random drug testing.
The state initially recommended $1,000 cash bail because Smith has an extensive criminal history including theft and arson convictions for which he has served jail time, along with multiple probation violations. In 2011, he was convicted of domestic violence assault against Nelligan.
Smith is next due in court Nov. 12. If found guilty, he could face one year behind bars and a fine of up to $2,000.
“Right now, the endangering the welfare of a child statute that we have only allows us to charge a misdemeanor,” said Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Russell. When asked if the charges against Smith and Nelligan could be upgraded to felony charges, Russell said it’s uncertain.
“It could be, I’m not saying that it will be,” she said.
On the day of their daughter’s death — Oct. 19, 2018 — Smith and Nelligan had spent the day together with their daughter. That night, Bangor police and firefighters responded to Nelligan’s home at Holiday Trailer Park in Bangor for reports of an unresponsive child. The 1-year-old was taken to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center and pronounced dead.
According to court documents, the Maine Medical Examiner’s office later told Bangor police that the cause of death was acute fentanyl exposure, and that the child had to have ingested it in some fashion.
Smith and Nelligan initially told police that they had spent the day taking their daughter to parks in Brewer and later admitted that they had spent some time in Brownville, where they went for a drug deal, according to court documents.
In December 2018, Smith told Bangor police that he had witnessed Nelligan rub heroin residue on the baby’s gums about 15 times in the two months leading up to the 1-year-old’s death, allegedly to help the baby sleep. She had done it to her other children as well, Smith said.
Nelligan pleaded not guilty to charges of child endangerment and possession of a Schedule Z drug in Bangor court last Wednesday.
During his December conversation with Bangor police, Smith was being held at the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor. He had been arrested before for having contact with Nelligan, which violated the terms of his probation.