Crime

A 9-month-old died. One year later, Rock Hill parents, grandparents face charges

The parents and a set of grandparents of a 9-month-old girl, who police say died from exposure to opioids in March 2017, have been charged with child neglect in the infant’s death, according to police and arrest records.

The child, Juliana White, died March 29, 2017 from exposure to fentanyl, a narcotic opioid, while in the home of her grandparents, said Det. Brooks Felmet of the Rock Hill Police Department. Investigators with the police department and State Law Enforcement Division Child Fatality Task Force had been investigating the case since the child died, Felmet said.

The mother of the child, Julisa Gabrielle White, 27, was charged Tuesday morning with three felony counts of unlawful child neglect. White is an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Saluda Trail Middle School, Rock Hill school officials confirmed.

Harold Gene White III, the child’s father, is charged with three counts of child neglect, and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine and two counts of possession of narcotics oxycodone and hydrocodone, according to Rock Hill police and SLED.

Arrest warrants allege that during an April 17, 2017 search of Harold White’s home, SLED agents found 473 grams of marijuana in a vacuum sealed bag in between the mattress and box spring in the master bedroom. Police also allege in the search warrants that agents found cocaine, 88 hydrocodone pills, and 15 oxycodone pills during the April 17 search.

He was released after posting $15,500 bond Tuesday, Rock Hill jail officials said.

Julisa White was released on a personal recognizance bond after appearing in court Tuesday, court records show.

Arrest warrants against Julisa White and Harold White allege both placed their three children at “unreasonable risk” for their safety by allowing the children to stay in a home on Simpson Street.

Julisa White’s lawyer, Leland Greeley of Rock Hill, said Julisa White was arrested a year after the incident and after she was cleared by the Family Court after a S.C. Department of Social Services investigation. Greeley issued a written statement condemning police and saying his client had done nothing wrong.

“I am sorry that the day after the Family Court ended the Department of Social Services investigation and allowed Mrs. White, a dedicated teacher of the Rock Hill school district, to continue with the custody and care of her three remaining children, that Detective Felmet of the Rock Hill Police Department felt it necessary to use his great power to accuse her of, and having her arrested for, a criminal allegation,” Greeley said in the written statement.

“He (Felmet) did nothing for a year. The timing is telling. Perhaps he disagreed with the state Family Court judge.”

Chris Wellborn, lawyer for Harold White, said Tuesday after White was arrested that “serious allegations have been made,” yet he “looks forward to defending the case.”

“Just because people are accused of something that does not mean they have done anything wrong,” Wellborn said.

Police were called to the home of the child’s grandparents on Simpson Street in Rock Hill on March 29, 2017, when Juliana was found unconscious, Felmet said. Police determined after an autopsy and other investigation that the child died from an overdose after exposure to fentanyl, Felmet said.

Police said the home on Simpson Street had “terrible living conditions” that were “unfit for the children,” Felmet said. Five children, three of them the children of Julisa and Harold Gene White III, were living in the home, Felmet said.

The address for Julisa and Harold White is listed in arrest warrants as different from the Simpson Street address.

Yolanda Harris Adams, 46, identified in arrest warrants as the child’s grandmother, was charged Monday with five counts of unlawful neglect toward a child, in connection with five children, warrants show. The five children include the three in the case involving her son and daughter-in-law, and two other children staying in the home, Felmet said.

Yolanda Adams remains in the York County jail on a $50,000 bond, and is being held by the York County Sheriff’s Office on another charge, jail records show.

Robert Lee Adams, 68, who Felmet said was the grandfather of the deceased child, was charged Thursday with two counts of felony child neglect in connection with two other children staying in his home, Felmet said. Robert Adams was released on a personal recognizance bond, records show.

Rock Hill school district spokesman Mychal Frost said Julisa White took three days of administrative leave, including Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, for a personal matter/court date. However, school officials were not aware of her arrest until contacted Tuesday by The Herald.

School district employees are obligated to tell district officials of any arrest, Frost said.

“We are waiting for more information and will proceed accordingly,” Frost said.

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