Natalie Renee Russell update: Mom accused of getting meth to girl no longer facing 1st degree murder

Posted at 5:28 PM, Aug 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-16 21:52:03-04

A Phoenix mother accused of killing her child is no longer facing first-degree murder charges.

Officials say on April 13, Natalie Renee Russell, 30, left a 120-milligram bottle of liquid methadone within reach of her children. They say that her young daughter, Adalynn was found by her mother unresponsive and not breathing. The bottle of methadone was nearby and empty. 

The girl was pronounced dead the next day by the Phoenix Fire Department.

A grand jury has reduced the charges to second-degree murder with extreme indifference to human life.  

Russell’s family says they’re relieved to get the news as they struggle with many mixed emotions.

Paige Russell said they’re still very angry about Baby Adalynn's death, but also realize that Natalie is a drug addict and has been struggling for the last eight to 10 years.

"I know that she was on Methadone, and they had upped her dose. Going from a little bit to 240 mgs. I don't even know what that means. I know when I look it up it says 10 msg can harm someone," said Paige.

Family members are in touch with Russell in jail, and say she's been struggling while going through detox.

"She still has spasms and sweats. That's because she's been doing it for so long," added Paige.

"Now that she's off the Methadone and thinking clearly, I think she's in a grieving stage bad because reality is setting in. She is obviously a little depressed and a little discouraged," said Michael Russell, baby Adalynn's uncle, and Natalie's brother in law.

Family members added that Natalie still cannot accept that her baby was gone.

"When I talked to her the other day, she told me it's still not real to her. She does not want to admit she's gone. I know she's struggling with that," said Paige.

Family members say Natalie is in protective custody housing at the jail. Sheriff's officials say Russell has been placed there for her own safety since this is a high profile child murder case.

Her family tells ABC15 Russell has been assaulted in jail and has visited the jail nurse at least five times since her arrest.

"She said she had some stitches, I can't really get into it but she said people have put their hands on her," said Paige.

Criminal defense attorney Russell Richelsoph, with the Davis Miles McGuire Gardner law firm, does not represent Natalie, but explained what the reduced charges could mean.

"She made a very bad decision, if the facts are true, but she didn't intend to cause the death of her child, therefore first-degree murder charges are inappropriate here. They just don't fit the facts of the case," said Richelsoph.