A Granite City woman accused of allowing her 17-month-old son to ingest drugs was denied a request to have her case transferred to drug court, an alternative program generally reserved for non-violent offenders.
Police say Billie Jean Cottle, 25, allowed her young son to ingest fentanyl and methamphetamine while she overdosed in a bathroom in July.
A family member told police they found Cottle with her son in her arms their home’s bathroom while checking up on the two, police previously told the BND. Cottle was found suffering from an overdose with her son, who was unresponsive, according to police.
Cottle was screened and assessed, according to court documents, to determine whether she was eligible for drug court — if admitted to drug court she could seek treatment for her addictions instead of facing prosecution.
Court documents indicate there was some discussion in court about amending her charges to allow her to participate in the program, but eventually her request was denied and her original charges remain.
David Garcia, the father of the child who ingested the drugs, wrote a letter to the court pleading for Cottle to be allowed to partake in the drug court.
“Billie may be a lot of things, but I know for a fact she didn’t give my son Aries drugs on purpose,” Garcia wrote. “Billie has been struggling with addiction for a while now...I begg (sic) for mercy from the courts to help Billie instead of treating her like she’s a harder criminal...She’s a smart person who has made a bad — a very bad — mistake.”
Garcia asked Judge Neil Schroeder to give Cottle a chance to prove that she is a “good person as well as a good mom.”
“Billie loves Aries,” he wrote. “She would never hurt him on purpose.”
In December 2016, Cottle wrote a letter to Judge Kyle Napp, pleading for a furlough so she could take care of a warrant she had in St. Louis County on charges of possession of a controlled substance. She was arrested on that warrant and on the four felony charges related to her child’s ingestion of drugs in August.
“I will do whatever the courts ask me to do,” Cottle wrote in her letter. “I’m just ready to show you I’m fully committed to make these changes of being sober and living life the right way for myself and my babies...I definitely agree I need to go to residential rehab.”
Cottle was scared that if the St. Louis charges remained open after the warrant was lifted she might miss a court date if she was in treatment. That, she said, would have yet another warrant out for her arrest — a situation she described as a “revolving door of coming in and out of jail.”
While in custody, Cottle is taking part in the Behind the Walls program that helps combat opioid addiction in inmates in Madison County. The program, funded by a state grant, gives inmates addiction medication, recovery coaching and other treatment.
Cottle is facing charges of aggravated battery to a child, aggravated battery, endangering the life of a child and reckless conduct charges.