Mother pleads not guilty in drowning death of baby
By DEBORAH CIRCELLI
DAYTONA BEACH — Drug allegations were part of the life of a Volusia County mother long before her 4-month-old son drowned in her mobile home’s bathtub, state records show.
Christal Giachetti, 30, pleaded not guilty Thursday to aggravated manslaughter of a child in the death of her infant son Trenton Giachetti and remained held on $150,000 bail. She faces 30 years in prison if convicted.
After the boy drowned April 6, the mother gave deputies varying accounts about Trenton’s death in the mobile home on Avenue H, outside Ormond Beach. But she ultimately admitted to placing the baby inside the tub with running water and then stepping away to use another bathroom, according to Volusia County Sheriff’s Office reports.
Christal Giachetti — who uses several prescription drugs for back pain — told police she forgot he was in the tub and went to sleep.
According to Department of Children & Families records obtained after a judge granted a petition by The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Christal Giachetti was the subject of several calls to the state’s abuse hot line years before Trenton’s birth.
The complaints — dating back more than 10 years — alleged drug use and the dealing of drugs out of her home when she cared for her older son, Kevin Giachetti, records show. None of the complaints was substantiated by state workers, though in some cases counseling and education were offered to the family.
More recently, Christal Giachetti was taking prescription pain pills, she told DCF, because of back pain after falling off a mechanical bull more than four years ago. She told investigators she would inject pain medication in between her toes.
According to reports, relatives and friends told investigators in Trenton’s death that she had previously told them she hated Trenton and “she sometimes felt like putting the baby in the tub, turning on the water and leaving.”
The morning of Trenton’s death, the mother was slurring her words and staggering in front of the home as deputies sorted out the situation inside.
DCF records show six prior calls to the state’s abuse hot line, including one when Trenton was born because Christal Giachetti tested positive for painkillers. Since she had prescriptions, DCF found no evidence of abuse and offered her services, but she declined.
In 1997 and 1998, three calls were made to the state’s abuse hot line surrounding either allegations of medical neglect or allegations of drug use, selling drugs, and hazardous conditions at the family’s house, records show.
The medical neglect involved older son Kevin, now 13, who the DCF report said had epileptic seizures. But, in all three of the cases, investigators found no proof to substantiate any of the claims.
Hot line callers claimed drugs were being sold from the Giachetti home; the complaints included people being seen going into the house with money and leaving with bags believed to contain drugs, the report states. Christal Giachetti and her oldest son’s father, Stephen Giachetti, denied the allegations and investigators found no proof.
Christal Giachetti told investigators she and her husband did not use or sell drugs and if they did “they sure as hell would not be living in a trailer and would have a condo on the beach.” They said because they have friends with long hair and are young, people assume they are on drugs.
Both Christal Giachetti and the child’s father were offered parenting classes and family counseling but refused, the report states.
In 2001, there was another allegation to the hot line regarding drugs being sold by the father, but DCF could not substantiate the claims and closed the case.
In the various cases, DCF investigators reported Giachetti’s home was “clean and appropriate and hazardous free.”
Reggie Williams, local DCF administrator, said frequently the state has reports of alleged drug abuse or misuse that can’t be supported. He said services are typically offered, but parents don’t have to accept unless evidence is found, a dependency case is opened and a judge orders treatment.
A death review committee is still going over the details of Trenton’s death and will look at whether there were things DCF missed or could improve on, Williams said. DCF’s investigation is done, but won’t be closed until the death review is completed.
Two adult abuse reports about Christal Giachetti were also filed to DCF.
Those complaints, in 2001 and 2007, involved her frail grandparents, whom she cared for at one time. One report claimed Christal Giachetti was verbally and physically abusive to her grandparents, but investigators found no evidence of abuse, though the grandmother said the two often argued.
– Staff Writers Jay Stapleton and Lyda Longa contributed to this report.