Lawyer for TV Reporters Indicted for Child Abuse Says Baby Was 'Never in Any Serious Risk'
"People want to be comfortable that this is an aberrant act," their attorney tells PEOPLE
Two married Arizona TV reporters facing felony charges after police say cocaine was found in their infant daughter’s system are focused on “reuniting their family, taking care of their child and getting past this mistake,” their attorney tells PEOPLE.
“They’re good, caring parents,” attorney Michael Piccarreta says of clients Krystin Rae Lisaius and Somchai P. Lisaius, both news personalities in the Tucson area.
Kristin and Somchai were indicted June 9 on three felony charges – possession of a dangerous drug, drug paraphernalia and child abuse – after they allegedly did cocaine one night and Krystin later breastfed their 4-month-old daughter.
Both pleaded not guilty in court Monday and were released on their own recognizance.
“Let’s assume [the] allegations are true. What you have is a recreational use event by a very, very nice couple who never dreamed that 12 hours later the substance would be in the system, and that was a mistake,” Piccarreta says.
“And when the child showed any signs, which were actually lethargy, the child was taken to the hospital,” he continues. “The child was never injured, never in any serious risk, and basically it was very, very healthy and thriving before and healthy and thriving now.”
Piccarreta says their daughter has been placed with Krystin’s mother, and Krystin is allowed to see her 24 hours a day, while Somchai is allowed to see her 12 hours a day.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety confirmed to PEOPLE that the Lisaius’s daughter has been placed with a relative and is safe, and that a dependency petition has been filed in court alleging the child is “dependent” on the state for care, spokeswoman Vickie Isaac said.
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Piccarreta says the couple is undergoing drug screenings and taking parenting classes: “Whatever people want them to do, they’re gonna do,” he says.
“People want to be comfortable that this is an aberrant act,” he says.
Parents Refused a Blood Test for Infant Daughter
Police said there were first alerted to the family after they brought in their daughter to the Oro Valley Hospital on May 15, a police spokesperson previously confirmed to PEOPLE.
The parents allegedly refused a blood test for their daughter at Oro before being transferred by ambulance to nearby Banner University Medical Center, where they again allegedly refused a blood test, police said.
(Piccarreta says many have wrongly interpreted the couple’s alleged refusal of a blood test: Rather than refusing medical care for their child, he says the couple simply didn’t want their daughter “jabbed with needles” without what they felt was good medical cause.)
Police say a urine test conducted at Banner showed the presence of cocaine in the baby’s system, and Krystin later allegedly admitted she had done cocaine after a party at her home and then breastfed her child 12 hours later. Her husband, Somchai, also allegedly admitted that he did cocaine that night, police said, and, in a police report obtained by Tucson News Now, said he used cocaine every six weeks or so.
Two small bags containing a white powder substance found at Lisaius residence tested positive for cocaine, police said.
But Piccarreta says there is no criminal history for either parent, and the daughter’s medical care has been “exemplary.”
“A measure of this is how you face up to the problem, deal with it and respond, because we all make mistakes,” he says.
Piccarreta says Krystin and Somchai are taking the reaction to their accusations, including many Internet commenters, in stride: “They recognize they brought it on themselves,” but their focus is their child.
He says if a child was taken from their parent every time the parent did a drug, such as marijuana, “We’d have a lot of parentless children.”