Father sentenced after toddler dies of heroin overdose


By now, Dominic Dickinson should be in the throes of his terrible twos.

Instead, the boy with the bright eyes and big smile is forever 11 months old.

Police received a call of an infant not breathing on May 13, 2015. Medics pronounced Dominic deceased shortly after arriving.

It was later determined that Dominic had lethal doses of heroin and fentanyl in his system, which caused his death.

"To me this is just such a tragedy,” Franklin County Coroner Anahi Ortiz said. “It's so preventable."

Last summer in unrelated cases, Ortiz ruled two baby deaths the result of heroin overdoses: 14-month-old Annabella Sagstetter, and Dominic Dickinson.

"I can't imagine the circumstances that these babies were living in,” Ortiz said.

Dominic's father, Kyle Black, and his mother, Denise Dickinson, were both charged with involuntary manslaughter in his death. Black pleaded guilty in May.

At his sentencing Wednesday, Franklin County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Rausch said however much Dominic's parents loved him, they put their addiction before their child.

"This offense took place when they were using drugs with the children in the bed," she said.

Black's attorney said his client has been a drug user since childhood. Dennis Day claims Black tried to protect his children from his habit.

"It turns out that not only did they purchase heroin that was far more powerful than anything they'd anticipated, they'd purchased heroin that was poorly packaged,” Day said. “And by that I mean there was dust all over the inside and outside of the baggie that it was in. So it turns out that failure to wash away the substance on the hands while making a bottle for the baby is what ultimately, most likely led to Dominic's death."

That explanation earned no sympathy from the judge, who sentenced Black to nine years in prison.

Given the opportunity to speak on his own behalf, Black said nothing.

Ortiz said this case should be an alarm to all who use heroin, and those around them.

"I hope something hits home. I hope something hits home and they go and seek treatment," she said.

Denise Dickinson will be in court in July on charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering.