By Naeisha Rose
Phyllis Reinoso, a woman who lived in Jamaica and was a suspect in the death of her son, was arrested in Alabama, brought back to New York and arraigned before Queens Criminal Court Judge Scott Dunn last week to face charges of assault and manslaughter, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
On Jan. 22, 2017, her 5-year-oldson Michael “Mikey” Guzman, who had focal epilepsy, was found unconscious and unresponsive at their home located between 109th Avenue and Inwood Street, according to police.
EMS responded to the scene and took Mikey to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to authorities.
In July 2017, a report from the medical examiner determined that Mikey died from acute phenobarbital intoxication. In other words, he received too much anti-seizure medication.
“The victim in this case was a little boy with an ailment that could be controlled if the medication he required was administered correctly and consistently,” said Brown.
Reinoso, 31, also is charged with reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child, according to the DA.
On Dec. 14, 2017, police officially ruled his death a homicide, but by that time Reinoso, who was wanted for questioning, was nowhere to be found.
U.S. Marshals in Alabama received a lead on the suspect earlier this year from their counterparts in New York’s Marshal Service Fugitive Task Force. On July 9, they were able to identify Reinoso, outside a Laundromat in the city of Atmore, entering a vehicle on the passenger side in a car driven by an unidentified woman.
A traffic stop was conducte, according to the U.S. Marshals, and they were able to arrest her without incident.
Reinoso waived her extradition, was returned to New York City the night of July 9 and arraigned and charged July 26, according to the DA’s office.
The charges levied against Reinoso indicated that Mikey was diagnosed with focal epilepsy in October 2012, and that his mother was instructed multiple times on how to administer two daily doses of two different medications, and the boy’s doctor warned that failure to be consistent with his medicine could lead to frequent seizures and the possibility of death.
The assault charge stems from a Sept. 7, 2016 incident in which the mother told the boy’s doctor that his seizures increased and was told to bring him to the hospital “first thing” the next day, but the child was not taken to the hospital until Sept. 9, 2016.
After being admitted to the hospital a day later than was requested, Mikey’s seizures multiplied and were nearly uncontrollable, because he was not given regular doses of one of his medications, according to a report from a doctor’s examination.
Doctors had to give Mikey a high dose of anti-seizure medication to save his life and the seizures stopped, but the child had to be hospitalized for eight days, according to the criminal complaint. The defendant claimed she had only missed a single dose.
Months later, Mikey died from improper administration of his medication.
“The defendant in this case – the boy’s mother – after repeated instructions from the doctor failed to follow those simple instructions. Autopsy results show that the youngster died of a fatal overdose of one of his medications,” said Brown.
Reinoso’s bail was set at $1 million, she was ordered to return to court Aug. 17 and could possibly face up to 25 years in prison if convicted, according to the DA.
“The defendant now faces the possibility of a long term of incarceration,” said Brown.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose