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Friday, July 12, 2024

Suffolk County Opioid Crisis Claims Another Life: One-Year-Old Joseph Adonis


Suffolk County is forced to mourn the life of yet another resident due to the current opioid crisis in our state. One-year-old Joseph Adonis, of Holbrook, was killed earlier this month due to his exposure to fentanyl and other uncontrolled substances at the hands of his mother and father.

On the morning of January 3, 2024, a 911 call was made from a residence in Holbrook. When Suffolk County Police officers arrived, they found fourteen-month-old Joseph Adonis unresponsive and not breathing. The baby was rushed to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Joseph was found in a bedroom littered with uncontrolled substances including cocaine, Fentanyl, Xanax, packaging materials, digital scales, a stun gun, a loaded shotgun, and a rifle, which was all insecure and accessible to both Joseph and his eleven-year-old brother.

According to Joseph’s toxicology report, doctors found cocaine, fentanyl, morphine, an upper cursor chemical of fentanyl, a metabolite of fentanyl, and a metabolite of cocaine in the baby’s system.

“In 2023, at the Bronx Daycare, three children between eight months and two years of age were found unresponsive. A one-year-old child died of fentanyl poisoning and that was simply because they had come in contact with fentanyl. Now, that horror has come to Suffolk County, as we knew unfortunately that it would,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney (R), who has been lobbying in Albany for the passage of four bills that would allow dealers to be charged in the death of those to whom they sell, fighting back against the current opioid crisis.

District Attorney Tierney announced that both parents of Joseph and the eleven-year-old boy, Wilkens Adonis and Daryllee Leibrock, have been indicted on the charges of two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the Third degree (Class B Felony), two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the Fourth degree (Class C Felony), criminal possession of a controlled substance in the Seventh degree, two counts of criminally using drug paraphernalia in the Second degree, two counts of failure to safely store rifles, shotguns, and firearms in the First degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the Third degree (Adonis received a class-B felony), criminal possession of a weapon in the Fourth degree (Leibrock only), two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in regard to the eleven-year-old child and Joseph Adonis.

In addition, defendant Leibrock is charged with four counts of criminal contempt in the second degree (Class A misdemeanor), allegedly violating stay-away orders issued by the Suffolk County Family Court prohibiting her from being around the eleven-year-old, as well as Joseph Adonis, and also from possessing illegal drugs around the children which would create, as we unfortunately see, an unreasonable risk to the health, safety, and welfare of the children.

“Once again, we are going to ask our state, the legislators, again, for help in this overdose crisis,” begs District Attorney Tierney. “Our police are finding fentanyl and other deadly narcotics every day in Suffolk County. Every day, they are administering Narcan to revive Suffolk County residents who are overdosing, they’re doing this at an alarming rate.”

In 2022, Suffolk County saw 399 fentanyl overdose deaths, more than one death per day.

“We are investigating what appears to be an overdose of a baby, and again, this is what we knew was going to happen given the deadly nature of these drugs and it’s going to continue to happen unless we act,” continues Tierney. “We need our legislators and our governor to help. We, as a group, our law enforcement, our legislators, as well as our activists, were in Albany two weeks ago with a bipartisan bill seeking help in this crisis to pass four bills.”

The four bills Tierney mentions include “Death by Dealer”, listing Xylazine or “Tranq” as an uncontrolled substance, which currently is legal to possess in New York State, a bill to allow families to access crime victim funds, and a bill to allow prosecutors to request bail in processing fentanyl cases. All four bills would be a first step in battling the current opioid crisis within New York State.

“The indictment here today illustrates the problem we have. The defendants are charged with felony possession with intent to sell fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine but we cannot ask for bail on these charges,” says Tierney. “We can’t ask for bail on the drug charges, injuring the welfare of a child, or the weapons charges.”

Adonis and Leibrock are both being held on court ordered $50,000 bail because there were already two open cases against the defendants. However, as Tierney explains, if there were no open cases on them already, the couple would not be bail eligible under New York’s Bail Reform Law, allowing them to return to our streets.

“What does it say about a society that cannot protect its children, or the ravages of this opioid and drug crisis that we find ourselves in?” asks Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches). “We are truly at a point of crisis. What does it say about a state that, without the research and work of the District Attorney, would have these two people walk free? I think there is a case to be made for a cashless bail, but that case should be made on a case-by-case basis, by judges, and not by a gubernatorial legislative decree that allows people of this nature to walk free. We need changes in the law. The four bills that the District Attorney has talked about are four bills that I strongly support and have strong support from this county. I hope the governor and our state legislators are listening. We need to keep the people of this county safe. We need to make sure that the criminals don’t run rampant, that we are not inundated with an opioid and a drug crisis that’s so devastating and widespread that little children are being affected. Again, if we can’t protect our children who can we protect?”

Under the current law, Adonis and Leibrock face 1-9 years of imprisonment; however they can make an application to the court, and if the court deems fit, they could serve no jail time. Two milligrams of fentanyl, which is the size of a grain of rice, is enough to kill an adult. When the substance is cut or mixed, it can become airborne, leading to indefinite ways to spread. If this “poison”, as District Attorney Tierney refers to it, comes in contact with a child, it will result in a horrific death.

“Suffolk County continues to struggle with opioid addiction, and, despite our best efforts, people are still dying from overdoses,” says Suffolk County Police Commissioner Robert Waring. “Fentanyl is fifty times stronger than heroin and one hundred times stronger than morphine; it is a major contributor to fatal and non-fatal overdoses, and we see its deadly consequences over and over again. I would like to thank the members of my department who recognized the severity of this incident and held the scene to obtain a search warrant to gather all appropriate evidence in this case. I commended the District Attorney and his office who will prosecute these defendants and ensure that they are held accountable for this heartbreaking tragedy.”

“It doesn’t need to be large scale to kill people,” adds District Attorney Tierney. “Under our law, the defendants need to possess enough to kill 113,000 people. As we see, we only need a small amount to result in the death of people…Our young people are dying, young children are dying. This is a crisis; we need to act. So, I urge the governor and our legislators to react to what’s happening out on the street and to do something about it, not talk about it, do something about it.”

Kaitlyn Foley
Kaitlyn Foley
Kaitlyn Foley is an Entertainment and Lifestyle Reporter and Staff Writer for the Messenger Papers. She is the weekly author of our Seasonal Column on Page 17. As a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology, Kaitlyn has a passion for fashion journalism and creative writing. In addition to writing, Kaitlyn also works as one of our Media and Website Associates.