Former Tucson television news reporter Som Lisaius and his wife pleaded not guilty Monday to three counts each of drug and child-abuse charges.
The charges stem from a May 15 incident in which the couple brought their then-4-month-old baby girl to Oro Valley Hospital after the baby wouldn’t wake up and her eyes rolled back into her head, records from the Oro Valley Police Department show.
The baby tested positive for cocaine as did Lisaius, who at the time was a reporter at KOLD News 13, and his wife, Krystin Lisaius, who worked at KGUN Channel 9 two years ago, also as a reporter.
An official at KOLD said Monday that Som Lisaius no longer works for the station.
The Lisaiuses admitted using cocaine at their home Saturday, May 14, according to police reports released Monday under a records request by the Arizona Daily Star. Krystin Lisaius told police she breast-fed the baby the following morning, but did not think the baby would be affected 12 hours after she used cocaine, the reports said.
Detectives later found about 1.8 grams of cocaine in a desk drawer at the Lisaiuses’ house, as well as white residue on a Safeway Club Card in the name of Krystin Sorich, her maiden name, and a rolled-up dollar bill inside a Tiffany jewelry box.
When detectives arrived at the hospital, the baby’s condition was listed as good and she was expected to recover completely, the police report stated.
The Lisaiuses each pleaded not guilty at an initial appearance and arraignment Monday in Pima County Superior Court before Judge Lee Ann Roads. Their next court hearing is scheduled for July 28.
Som and Krystin Lisaius are each facing:
- One count of child abuse to a person under 18 years of age, causing death or serious physical injury, a class three felony.
- One count of possession of a narcotic drug, a class four felony.
- One count of possession of drug paraphernalia, a class six felony.
The Lisaiuses, who appeared in court with their attorney, Michael Piccarreta, were released on their own recognizance.
Their infant daughter, who was born in December, was placed by the state’s Department of Child Safety with her maternal grandmother once she was released from the hospital, Piccarreta said.
Roads said the couple are to have contact with their baby only by what is allowed by DCS.
The Lisaiuses “baby was and is 100 percent healthy, and never was in any danger,” Piccarreta said in an interview shortly after the court proceeding. He said the infant was “well taken care of” and described the incident as an “aberrant act.” The Lisaiuses were allowed contact with their child by DCS “almost immediately after the unfortunate incident that was remedied,” Piccarreta said.
He said Krystin Lisaius has 24-hour contact with her child in her mother’s house, and Som Lisaius is allowed to see the baby for 12 hours a day.
Piccarreta said the parents took the child to the hospital because they became concerned when she became lethargic. He declined to comment about the specifics of the case.
Records from the Oro Valley Police Department said the Lisaiuses and two friends went back to the Lisaiuses’ house after attending the birthday party of a friend’s child on May 14.
The baby went to sleep after drinking breast milk Krystin Lisaius had pumped earlier in the day. She breast-fed the baby again around 8 a.m. Sunday and the baby went to sleep a half-hour later.
She tried to wake the baby later that morning, but the baby was like a “rag doll” and her eyes rolled back into her head, reports state.
The couple took the baby to Oro Valley Hospital, but then left with the baby against medical advice, police reports said. They then requested the baby be taken by ambulance to Banner-University Medical Center.
Hospital staff reported the Lisaiuses refused most lab tests, including a blood test of the baby. The Lisaiuses deny they refused the tests.
“It should be noted that at no time according to the report did either parent tell the hospital staff about the mother’s cocaine use the night before and Krystin continued to breast feed while at the hospital,” one detective wrote.
Krystin Lisaius initially denied using cocaine and said she did not know how her baby was exposed to the drug. She later admitted to using cocaine by snorting it , the reports stated.
When Som Lisaius was told the baby’s urine tested positive for cocaine, he denied using the drug. After police told him about his wife’s statements, he said “he had used cocaine on Saturday in the master bedroom, and that he uses cocaine himself every 6 weeks or so,” reports state.
After court, Piccarreta said the Lisaiuses are “emotionally distraught and very, very upset. They have learned some lessons.” Piccarreta added that “this act is not really” who his clients are. “We all make mistakes. We all have done things we regret.”