Johnstown Mother Pleads Guilty to Charges Regarding 5-Year-Old Child’s Fentanyl-Involved Death, Sentenced to State Prison

February 19, 2024 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG— Attorney General Michelle Henry announced that a Cambria County woman has pleaded guilty to charges relating to the overdose death of her five-year-old daughter in 2023.

Volaura Askew, 27, pleaded guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of recklessly endangering another person.

In accordance with a plea agreement, Askew was sentenced to two to four years in state prison.

“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,” Attorney General Henry said. “This case is a sad example of the deadly threat fentanyl poses to everyone, including our young children.”

An investigation by the Office of Attorney General, the Johnstown Police Department, the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office, and the Cambria County Coroner’s Office revealed that Askew exposed her 5-year-old daughter to fentanyl/heroin in the hours and days before the child was found dead in her Johnstown home on October 27, 2022. An autopsy determined the girl died of a fentanyl overdose.

Albert Spicer and Elyse Young, of Johnstown, are also charged with drug-dealing offenses in this case. Investigators determined Spicer was a supplier of illegal drugs, and Askew was staying at Young’s home, which Spicer was allegedly using as a stash house following his release from prison.

Askew and Young had both used fentanyl and heroin there, when the 5-year-old girl and her 6-year-old sister were also present in the home, including the night before the 5-year-old’s death.

Young took Askew and her children back to Askew’s home, and on October 27, 2022, the 5-year-old girl was found dead in her bedroom by her older sister.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General David Gorman.

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