Aleisha Manchester holds a photo of 16-year-old Braydon George.

KCBS Radio

Petaluma Mother Refuses to Appear in Court for Son's Overdose Death

Jeffrey Schaub
September 20, 2018 - 2:22 pm

SANTA ROSA — The Santa Rosa courtroom was packed Thursday morning with family and friends ready to read their statements against Danielle Faletto, 35, of Petaluma, who pleaded guilty to child endangerment for the overdose death of her 16-year-old son, Brayden George.

Judge Bradford DeMeo was prepared to deliver a sentence of up to 12 years in prison for Faletto for administering a lethal dose of Xanax laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl to her son. 

Then word came that Faletto refused to be transferred from county jail to Sonoma County Superior Court. For the second time in three weeks, the defendant said she was too emotionally distraught to face her sentencing.

After the announcement, the boy’s relatives and friends left the courtroom in anger and shedding tears. Brayden’s grandfather, Nelson Panola, said  Faletto still has not accepted responsibility for her son’s death.

“She refuses to come to court because it’s distressing for her to hear what people have to say. Well, she gave up her rights the night she left her son to die. She has no rights,” said Panola. “She’s destroyed not only this boy, but she’s destroyed our lives, too.”

Brayden was found unconscious and died of an overdose at Petaluma Valley Hospital on April 16. Family described Brayden as a little league baseball player who loved to camp and fish.

Fentanyl is hundreds of times more potent than heroin and is often produced and distributed illegally. The drug can be deadly even when prescribed by a doctor, and is a factor in an epidemic of overdose deaths across the country.

By law, Faletto can refuse to come to court. The judge has set another hearing for next Tuesday morning, and ordered bailiffs to bring Faletto to the courtroom “by any means necessary.”

The boy’s father, Jason George, broke down in tears in the courtroom upon learning the hearing was postponed yet again. He said it’s been a horrific time. “It was stressful, really hard on a lot of family, on myself,” he said.

Neither Faletto’s public defender, nor the district attorney, would comment on the case.

Written by Jordan Bowen.