New Details Emerge in Irvine Child Abuse Case

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A 31-year-old woman was behind bars Thursday on charges of child abuse related to her nearly 2-year-old son being hospitalized for fentanyl exposure.

Jacqueline Hunter pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Wednesday in Santa Ana. She was scheduled to return to court on Jan. 20 for a pretrial hearing in the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.

Hunter was charged Wednesday with a felony count of child abuse and endangerment with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury on a child younger than 5, as well as two misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance.

The toddler, who had been brought home following a doctor's appointment for a broken leg on Monday, stopped breathing, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office. His father performed CPR on his son until paramedics arrived and rushed the victim to the Children's Hospital of Orange County, where he tested positive for fentanyl, according to prosecutors.

When police served a search warrant on the victim's residence, they found a baggie of fentanyl and Xanax pills, prosecutors said. Hunter's husband was unaware of the drugs, prosecutors said.

"There is absolutely no reason that little boy is sitting in a hospital bed right now unable to breathe on his own," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.

Spitzer said the toddler was "fighting to survive."

Spitzer criticized an Orange County Superior Court commissioner for setting a $30,000 bail for Hunter, who remained jailed Wednesday. Prosecutors argued for $500,000 bail with the typical bail for such charges being $100,000.

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