WEST CHESTER — A southern Chester County man who nearly died after overdosing on drugs in his apartment while he was responsible for taking care of two infants — one of whom was his own toddler daughter — told a Common Pleas judge that he had finally recognized how much he had lost to his addiction.
“Ever since I turned myself in (to authorities), I really learned a lot about myself,” said Alejandro Junior Castellanos, who pleaded guilty to charges of endangering the welfare of children before Judge Jeffrey Sommer on Friday.
He said he had spent too much time leaving his family and friends disappointed in him, and was “heartbroken” that his fiancee — whose 2-1/2-year-old daughter he was looking after the morning he overdosed on fentanyl — had broken off their relationship because of his continued drug use.
“She ended up leaving me,” Castellanos said to Sommer via a video link from Chester County Prison, where he had been incarcerated since November, a month after his overdose. “That’s the worst thing for me. That really opened my eyes. It is the first time I’ve really been heartbroken.
“I am not a criminal,” he said in his defense. “But I let heroin take over me. I take full responsibility for this. It was my wake up call. I threw it all away over a drug that almost killed me.”
Sommer, in accepting Castellanos’s guilty plea, expressed sympathy for those self-inflicted woes. “We hope that this wake up call is successful for you, and that you maintain your sobriety,” he said.
As part of the plea agreement worked out between the attorneys in the case, Assistant District Attorney Faith Maddox-Baldini and defense attorney Peter Kratsa of the West Chester law firm of MacElree Harvey, Castellanos was sentenced to six to 12 months in Chester County Prison and made eligible for immediate parole because of the time he had already spent behind bars.
Castellanos, 20, of Avondale must also get a drug evaluation and undergo treatment for his addiction if ordered. He also will have to attend parenting classes and cannot have any unsupervised contact with his daughter.
According to the scenario that Maddox-Baldini laid out for Sommer, as well as a criminal complaint filed by Officer Christopher Gravina, Kennett Square police were called to an apartment on East Cypress Street at 10 a.m. on Oct. 19 for the report of a drug overdose.
Inside the apartment, they found Castellanos unconscious on the floor. Police administered nasal Narcan, an anti-overdose medication, and he was ultimately revived and taken to Jennersville Regional Hospital for treatment.
In the apartment, police found Castellanos’s 11-week old daughter and his then-girlfriend’s 2-1/2 year old child. Police said Castellanos’s daughter had a fully soaked diaper, and that her face as covered in vomit. The older girl was walking around the apartment dressed in only a t-shirt and diaper.
Castellanos was charged on Nov. 8 and sent to prison in lieu of $25,000 bail at his preliminary hearing by Magisterial District Judge Albert Iacocca. He has a string of earlier arrests and was on probation for a 2017 simple assault.