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Mom arrested in toddler's overdose death will stay jailed without bond

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BATON ROUGE - A mother arrested last week after her 2-year-old child died from a fentanyl overdose will be kept in jail without the possibility of bond. 

A judge agreed to revoke 28-year-old Whitney Ard's bond at the request of East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, whose office is handling multiple criminal cases involving Ard. The bond hearing Tuesday was tied to an unrelated case where Ard was caught with drugs and weapons, though the push to keep her in jail was prompted by her child's death. 

Ard's 2-year-old son, Mitchell Robinson III, died in June after overdosing on fentanyl that he found inside his home on Denova Street. It was the toddler's third overdose in the span of a few months, according to arrest documents. The prior two happened in April and the beginning of June, where Narcan was used to bring the toddler back to life.

"I think this was preventable. If there was a moment between the second and third overdose where action was taking place, and the child was placed in protective custody, then the third overdose would not have occurred," said Dr. Beau Clark, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner.

Ard was arrested last week and booked for negligent homicide. A few days later, a bond was initially set at $50,000. A judge put a hold on that bond, and Ard has remained jailed since.

Following the first two overdoses, ER doctors reported them directly to the Department of Child and Family Services with extensive proof.

"They did a very good job at not only notifying the state, but also making sure the appropriate toxicology was ordered," Clark said.

Despite that detailed report, no action was taken by the state to get the child out of that home, and Robinson stayed in his mother's care.

"We're going to see exactly what went wrong and what was known or should have been known and acted upon or not," Clark said.

At an unrelated press conference last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards promised changes at DCFS.

"We will then obviously take every action to make sure this does not happen again," Edwards said.

The department issued a statement on Wednesday saying a comprehensive review of this case is underway.

"I would like them to really analyze what they did because we don't need this mistake to happen again. We need them to react and protect children. That's in the title for their department and what they are supposed to be doing," Clark said.

DCFS is also working with the inspector general to review what happened. That investigation could possibly be turned over to prosecutors for criminal charges.


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