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Tampa Bay Times

Pasco father arrested in 9-year-old son’s death after ‘fentanyl toxicity’ finding

By Matt Cohen,

2023-03-14
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Brad Thorne, 33, was arrested Thursday and faces a manslaughter charge in connection to the death of his 9-year-old son, according to court records. [ Pasco County Jail ]

A Pasco County father faces a manslaughter charge after his 9-year-old child died after taking fentanyl that was left out in his home, according to court records.

On June 23, 2022, Brad Thorne, 33, had left his son home alone earlier in the day while running errands, and when he came back, the child was playing games on his tablet, according to court records. At that time, Thorne said his son was “not complaining of any health problems.”

Court records state the boy then said he was going to shower. Thorne went to check on him after some time passed, according to deputies, and found him not breathing.

The arrest report said Thorne took the boy outside the house to perform CPR. At this point, Thorne called 911. Pasco County Fire Rescue responded to the scene and the child was taken to HCA Florida Trinity Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to court records.

Doctors at the hospital said the boy’s body showed no signs of injuries that could have led to his death, court records said. The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office later ruled the child’s cause of death as “fentanyl toxicity.”

Later in the day after the child’s death, deputies returned to Thorne’s house. According to court records, deputies found vomit on the front porch. Inside the house, deputies saw dog urine, dog feces and duck feces on the floor. In the kitchen, dirty dishes were piled in the sink and old food was strewn across the counter.

In the bathroom where the child was found unresponsive, deputies saw cut straws and a “small baggie consistent with drug use,” according to court records. In the garage, deputies found a bong with marijuana in it.

The child was able to easily reach the drugs, court records said.

According to the arrest report, Thorne told deputies he smokes marijuana but does not do other drugs.

A test on the straws and baggie found in the bathroom showed “trace amounts of fentanyl.” Tests also showed both Thorne’s and the child’s DNA on the straws, according to court records.

Thorne was arrested on March 9 and faces a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child. He is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond, according to jail records.

In an arraignment hearing Monday afternoon, Thorne entered a not-guilty plea.

Stephanie Pawuk, a public defender appointed to represent Thorne, filed a motion Monday to withdraw from the case, citing “ethical conflicts.”

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