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Dozens of pot plants found in baby's room

November 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A 1-year-old is in protective custody after Tustin police found nearly two dozen marijuana plants in the baby's bedroom.Tina Turrieta is accused of endangering the life of her little girl. The 29-year-old was arrested at the Tustin apartment along the 15500 block of Tustin Village Way that she shared with Stephen Casino, a 26-year-old electrician.

"We were contacted by Orange County Child Protective Services, and they requested the assistance of our patrol officers to investigate a child abuse complaint," said Tustin Police Lt. Tom Tarpley.

Police allege that while investigating the complaint, they discovered about 20 marijuana plants growing in the bedroom right next to the child.

"Certainly, the child could grab the plant and ingest it and that was our concern with this case, that the quantity of plants, the proximity to the child certainly posed a danger to the child," said Tarpley.

Police say that the two insist they each have a license to legally grow 12 marijuana plants per person for medical purposes. Officials are still investigating that claim.

Police also say even if the couple can legally grow pot, when children are involved, they have to be especially careful.

"You have to take precautions, and precautions were not taken in this matter," said Tarpley.

Most neighbors say they had no idea what was happening in the one-bedroom apartment, although one neighbor noticed the couple always slept in the living room.

Many were shocked to hear the allegations of a child forced to share a room with pot.

"I mean it's bud, they shouldn't be anywhere near a baby. They should be separated," said Tustin resident Valerie Gonzales.

"I don't think it's that serious for a kid to be in foster care and for the parents to be in jail. I don't think that's right," said Luis Almanza, who lives in Tustin.

Almanza has a license to grow medical marijuana at his home. He says if the couple has a valid license, it shouldn't matter where they grow it.

"I feel like he wasn't in danger, and the parents know what they're doing, because obviously they're users themselves," said Almanza.

"We felt the child was in danger and that's why the arrest was made," said Tarpley.

The couple's child was taken into protective custody on her birthday. She turned 1 at the Orangewood Children's Home, an emergency shelter for abused and neglected children in Orange.

According to court records, Casino was arrested last January in an unrelated matter involving assault with a deadly weapon. He has entered not guilty pleas in that case.

For the current child endangerment case, Casino and Turrieta are expected to appear in court on Monday.


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