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Mom enters guilty plea in death of her son

A Louisa County mother faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in the “Benadryl death” of her 6-month-old son.

Tristan T. Goodwin, 32, was expected to appear in Louisa Circuit Court Wednesday morning for an arraignment on charges stemming from the fatal overdose from the over-the-counter allergy medication. Instead, Goodwin pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and felony child neglect without a plea agreement.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 15.

Last March 19, deputies and emergency medical personnel responded to the 1500 block of Roundabout Road in Louisa for a call about an infant not breathing, police said.

Attempts to revive 6-month-old Tyler Firth were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead on arrival at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville.

Police said the original cause of death was thought to have been Sudden Infant Death syndrome, but lab results returned several months later indicated a lethal dose of Benadryl, and high levels of Tylenol present in the baby’s body. Benadryl is typically used by adults suffering from allergies.

Goodwin was indicted in November after a review of the test results and was arrested on Dec. 4 after a monthlong search.

Initially, Goodwin told deputies that a doctor said it was all right to give Benadryl to the baby, but she later acknowledged that a friend—not a doctor—told her it was OK.

Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire said all of the boxes of Benadryl seized by deputies from Goodwin specifically said not to administer it to babies.

“This is a tragic case and I hope this child’s death sends the message to not give babies or young children Benadryl,” McGuire said. “Benadryl can cause paradoxical central nervous system stimulation with effects ranging from seizure to death. There are published reports of infants dying with as little as 1.1 to 1.6 mg/L of Benadryl in their system.”

Tyler’s autopsy revealed that he had 4.8 mg/L of Benadryl in his body, McGuire said.

He also said there were allegations that the baby cried a lot and that Goodwin hid the Benadryl from the father.

Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419