Arizona Woman Receives Prison Sentence For Child Endangerment Under Influence Of Substance Abuse Psychotic Disorder

A woman has been charged and sentenced for endangering her newborn daughter during a swim at Lake Mohave in the summer of 2018. 33-year-old Justine Renee Kirklen pled guilty to child abuse and has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. She will continue to be supervised after her release.

Police appeared on the scene at Lake Mojave on June 9, 2018, after fielding calls about a nude woman with a baby walking towards the lake. Kirklen’s judgment was so impaired at the time of the incident that she walked into the water so deep that she had to hold her baby with one hand while swimming with the other.

Extensive mental health problems and drug abuse are the believed causes of Kirklen’s dangerous actions. Kirklen suffered from post-partum depression and a substance abuse psychotic disorder at the time of her offense. Kirklen’s drug abuse is believed to have started when she was prescribed opioids after a traffic accident. The medicine was supposed to be used for her back pain form the accident and led to opioid addiction.

Bystanders intervened to help the infant. Kirklen was so out of it that she thought she had killed her baby, and the witnesses had to assure her that the baby was safe.

After the incident, the mother was taken to Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City for a mental health evaluation. According to court records, it was determined that Kirklen suffered from a substance-induced psychotic disorder.

Reports show that Kirklen shows remorse for the incident and has been sober for eight months during her incarceration. Kirklen recognizes she is not fit to be a parent to her baby and has voluntarily given up all her parental rights. The baby is unharmed and is in the final stages of being adopted.