Coral Springs – The death of a 4-year-old boy whose mother gave him a prescription sedative to help him sleep has been ruled a homicide, police said Wednesday. Nicholas Odze died Sept. 10, shortly after his father found him unconscious and not breathing on his bed in the family’s Coral Springs apartment.
His mother, Raisa Bernabe, told police she had given the boy a Lunesta pill the night before because he’d had trouble sleeping, police said. A short time later, Bernabe reportedly told police, she found the boy in the bathroom with several open prescription pill bottles. She was not sure whether he had taken any of the pills.
Toxicology tests from the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office found a combination of oxycodone, oxymorphone, ibuprofen and eszopiclone in the child’s system. Eszopiclone is the clinical name for Lunesta, a sedative that can lower the breathing and metabolism and can be fatal if taken in too high a dosage.
No charges have been filed, and detectives are continuing their investigation, said police spokesman Sgt. Joe McHugh. The child’s body showed no indications of physical trauma, broken bones or internal bleeding, according to initial exams after his death.
Spencer Aronfeld, the Miami attorney representing Bernabe and the child’s father, Alan Odze, said the couple was devastated by the loss of their son.
“They would just be completely incapable of intentionally harming Nicholas,” Aronfeld said.
Police had searched the family’s apartment and collected 68 prescription pill bottles, according to a search warrant filed in Broward Circuit Court. Nearly all the medications, including the Lunesta, had been prescribed to Odze, 51, a retired police officer from New York. Bernabe works as an assistant in the Coconut Creek city manager’s office.
Odze told police investigating the death that he had told Bernabe not to give the Lunesta to Nicholas, but he did not know she did it anyway, according to the search warrant.