Woman found guilty of delivery of controlled substance that killed her son
Christy Pruitt was transported to the Jack County Jail from the courthouse at 5:15 p.m.
The jury found her guilty of delivery of a controlled substance to a minor after about an hour and a half of deliberation Thursday afternoon.
Assistant District Attorney Jay Lapham requested she be remanded into the custody of the sheriff’s office and Judge Brock Smith granted the request.
Friday at 9 a.m., the court will begin the business of presenting evidence in the punishment phase of the trial.
Thursday morning, medical examiner Dr. Emily Cohen, who performed Trey Pruitt’s autopsy, said that he had nearly six times the amount of morphine in his system than what is normally prescribed and a level of Xanax that is within normally prescribed levels.
She said it was a bad idea to mix the two as it has an exponentially higher effect on respiratory depression than the drugs do separately.
Lapham asked Cohen if there was anything else that could have led to his death and was told he looked like a “healthy” teenager.
“The cause of death was the toxic combined effect of morphine and Xanax in the system,” Cohen said. “Death was accidental.”
On cross-examination, defense attorney Bob Estrada asked if there were fatal levels of morphine and Xanax separately in his system and was told it was the combined effect of both. Cohen said not having used the drugs before may have given a lower tolerance to them, much like the effects of alcohol.
DA Investigator Jack McGuinn went over the roughly four-hour timeline Sunday night into Monday morning of texts and phone calls between Trey and Christy Pruitt.
The defense called only one witness — the defendant.
Christy testified that Trey called to ask her for a weed pipe she had taken away from him. She said she told him via text not to let his aunt Jennifer find out because it was a weed pipe. She said she talked to him later and he didn’t sound right. He then called her back and said he had a headache so she told him to take an Advil.
She said the text, “Take one now and you can take another one in an hour and a half,” referred to Advil.
On cross-examination, Lapham asked Christy why she took the pipe away from him, to which she said she did not want him driving around with it and didn’t know what he would do with it. She said she did not like for him to smoke marijuana.
Lapham asked her if she allowed Trey and his friends to smoke marijuana at her house and if she had smoked marijuana with Trey on December 29, 2016. She said yes to both questions.
He also asked her if she felt like Trey was a responsible young man, to which she answered yes. She agreed he could take care of himself.
“So you told a 17-year-old boy how to take an Advil, an aspirin?” Lapham said.
He also asked her if she disputed Jordan’s testimony about Christy telling her to get Trey’s cell phone to delete messages between they exchanged.
Christy said she wanted Jordan to get the cell phone because she wanted to know what had happened that night.
“You know she had to move his body to get that phone?” Lapham asked.
Christy said, yes.
The jury had to decide if Pruitt was guilty of the delivery of a controlled substance to a child, first. Then they were instructed if they did find her guilty, to consider if she used or exhibited a deadly weapon, namely a controlled substance during the commission of the offense charged. A second special issue was also to be considered — that of whether or not Trey Pruitt died as a result of the controlled substance she delivered.
In closing statements, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Berry said this was not a murder trial.
“We’re not saying she intentionally caused the death of her son. That would be a murder trial,” Berry said.
He rehashed Jordan’s testimony saying she told the court she heard Trey talking to someone who sounded like her mother and heard Trey asking for morphine and the woman on the other line telling him where it was.
“Phone records proved that was the defendant,” Berry said.
He also said the trial was not about being a bad parent, but about the delivery of a controlled substance which is against the law.
“Why are drugs against the law? Because they kill our kids,” he said. “It’s by the grace of God that we’re not here for three dead kids instead of one.”
In Estrada’s closing statement, he said the evidence did not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Not her drugs, not her house, not even there, not credible evidence, not reliable evidence, not guilty,” he said.
He further went on to say the state’s case hinged on a single witness — Jordan Pruitt, the victim’s sister and defendant’s daughter.
“It relies on the reliability and credibility of one (angry) 14-year old,” Estrada said.
The jury returned a guilty verdict on the charge and both special issues which bear weight on the defendant's punishment.
The court is scheduled to reconvene Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. for the punishment phase of the trial.
Lapham estimates he has eight witnesses to call.
Brian Smith contributed to this report.