Mom gets probation in death of daughter

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
CHINA GROVE — A Rowan County woman has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 overdose death of her child.
Paula Marie Osterhus was charged in July 2009 after her 3-year-old daughter Kaely Osterhus ingested a lethal dose of methadone.
Paula Osterhus, 30, of China Grove, received three years probation after entering the plea this week in Rowan County Superior Court.
An autopsy report in 2009 said the child died of methadone toxicity. The methadone had been left in a food container within the girl’s reach.
The methadone, which was in a liquid form, had been prescribed to Paula Osterhus.
A judge suspended a 16- to 20-month jail sentence and placed Osterhus on supervised probation. Osterhus was also ordered to submit to random drug testing and warrantless searches, not possess illegal controlled substances, and remain enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
Osterhus also has to pay $318.50 in court costs, as well as $885 in fees for her court-appointed attorney, Darrin Jordan of Salisbury.
The autopsy report said Paula Osterhus discovered Kaely, who weighed 34 pounds, dead in her bed April 17, 2009.
Paula Osterhus told investigators she found her daughter unresponsive at 5:48 p.m. that day. She called 911, but emergency responders were unable to revive the girl.
Methadone is most commonly used to treat people who are addicted to opiates, such as heroin. It also is used to prevent withdrawal symptoms and for relief from chronic pain.
Attempts to reach Paula Osterhus or her husband, Eric, were unsuccessful.