Infant who died in care had high concentration of Benadryl in her blood

Updated: Jul. 22, 2019 at 8:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 7-month-old who died in the care of a babysitter in February tested positive for almost twice the concentration of Benadryl in her blood than what’s consistent with fatal overdoses in infants, documents filed in court show.

Dixie Denise Villa appeared before a judge Monday morning in connection with the case.

Villa, who has been charged with manslaughter, turned herself into police over the weekend. Her bail as been set at $1 million.

Police say 7-month-old Abigail Lobisch died at Villa’s home on the Aliamanu Military Reservation. Villa called 911 after finding baby Abigail unresponsive on the morning of Feb. 24.

In interviews with police, Villa said the baby had been fine all day.

She told officers the only thing she had administered to Abigail was lotion because she was slightly sunburnt after spending the day at the pool, court documents show.

But an autopsy concluded that baby Abigail had died of diphenhydramine toxicity.

Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient in Benadryl, and should not be given to a child under 6 without a doctor’s approval. The doctor who conducted the autopsy told police in his report that the medicine “should not be used in children under 6 years to make a child sleep.”

Police didn’t say if that’s what Villa is accused of doing. But court documents do show that Villa told officers on Feb. 24 that baby Abigail slept through the night ― not waking up once.

The baby’s mother told police that Abigail typically woke up frequently during the night.

In court, Villa’s attorney, David Hayakawa, made an unusual request, asking that her preliminary hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, be pushed back two weeks.

The family court judge even double checked with Villa to make sure she wanted that, since it is her right to have the hearing scheduled within two days.

Hayakawa said he is working to get a meeting with Honolulu Police detectives during those two weeks, “I immediately contacted the state, the prosecutors about this case when finding out about the arrest warrant, to offer our complete cooperation and we’d like an opportunity to meet with HPD about this case in the meantime.”

Hayakawa would not elaborate on the meeting.

Villa is not able to post the million dollar bail and will remain in custody.

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