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Fentanyl poisoning likely in suspicious death of Las Vegas infant

Updated December 22, 2020 - 4:06 pm

A Las Vegas child who died in September under suspicious circumstances had a potentially lethal amount of fentanyl in his system, police say.

Ace Martinelli was a day short of 8 months old when he was pronounced dead Sept. 18 at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, according to the Clark County coroner’s office.

His mother and father, Brandi Jean Krantz, 24, and Timothy Martinelli, 34, both of Las Vegas, are each facing multiple counts of child abuse in Las Vegas Justice Court.

A newly released Las Vegas police declaration of warrant in the case contends Ace Martinelli had “a high level of fentanyl in his blood” at the time of his death. The report said the assessment was made based on preliminary toxicology tests taken by the coroner’s office.

“(The child) had 78 ng/ml of fentanyl in his blood,” police said, adding, “Fatalities from fentanyl have been reported as low as 3 ng/ml.”

The Clark County coroner’s office ruled the baby’s cause of death as fentanyl toxicity, but the manner of death was undetermined. Timothy Martinelli’s attorney, Richard Schonfeld, said he is awaiting an autopsy report.

“We have not been able to conduct our own investigation and look forward to that opportunity, which we believe will exonerate Mr. Martinelli,” Schonfeld said.

Justice Court records indicate Krantz is being represented by the Clark County Public Defender’s Office. An attorney assigned to the case did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment Tuesday morning.

Tin foil in bassinet

Police said they were called to the hospital to investigate the child’s death shortly before noon. Las Vegas Fire Department first responders told police they were dealing with “a suspicious situation,” police said.

The baby was found lifeless by his mother that morning. Krantz told police the child fell asleep in a swing, and that Timothy Martinelli woke her up at some point, telling her to roll over so she wouldn’t suffocate the child. This confused Krantz because she remembered the child falling asleep in a swing.

Police said Krantz told them she found her son beside her, face down in the couch. Krantz said Timothy Martinelli performed CPR on the child without success. Police noted in the report that they were unable to contact Timothy Martinelli.

Police said they searched the couple’s home and found it “in complete disarray.”

“The house was filled with clutter, trash, old food and dirty clothes,” police said. “There was also items located in the house consistent with illicit drug use to include burnt tin foil wrappers and burnt soda cans. One piece of burnt tin foil was located inside a baby bassinet in the living room. A baby spoon with what appeared to be old food was found under the foil piece.”

Krantz denied illicit drug use, noting she has two more children staying in the home. She said she and Timothy Martinelli work in “sports handicapping and are ‘financial advisors.’” A witness told police the couple had recently received a 30-day notice to vacate the property.

CPS investigations

Police said authorities had been called about Ace’s well-being before. On Jan. 20, the day after Ace was born, Clark County Child Protective Services was informed that Krantz had tested positive for amphetamines at a hospital. Krantz told an investigator she is prescribed Adderall by a doctor. Timothy Martinelli denied any drug use. Four days later, a CPS investigator conducted a follow-up investigation at the couple’s residence and “found it to be unkempt,” police said.

CPS also told police that in December 2019 Krantz, who also uses the alias Brandi Martinelli, had tested positive for amphetamines at Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center.

“There have been five prior CPS reports from 2012-2019 alleging concerns of drug sales, inadequate supervision and substance abuse,” police said. “Two of these reports alleged environmental neglect and physical risk.”

CPS said Tim Martinelli denied drug use in their investigation, but Krantz told police, “Timothy is an active drug user and his drug of choice are opioids.”

“Brandi also admitted she struggles with an addiction to opioids (roxys) and prescription drugs (Lortab),” police said.

CPS said Krantz also tested positive for amphetamines in 2017. The police document does not detail how the CPS complaints were resolved, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported previously that Child Protective Services had three prior calls alleging abuse in the family. Allegations from July 2017 and October 2019 were found unsubstantiated, but a report of abuse on Jan. 20 was substantiated. All three of the reports were considered closed cases after the family was provided resources.

Krantz and Timothy Martinelli were in custody at the Clark County Detention Center Tuesday morning. They are each charged with four counts of child abuse-neglect and one count of child abuse-neglect causing substantial bodily harm. Krantz was being held on $100,000 bail. Martinelli’s bail was set at $75,000.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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