No more prison for ex-Dallastown dad whose tot nearly died from fentanyl

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Justin Allen Ennis

A former Dallastown man who spent more than nine months in York County Prison for inadvertently letting his toddler daughter ingest the powerful opioid fentanyl has avoided more jail time.

Justin Allen Ennis, 33, now of the Brogue area, pleaded guilty in York County Court on Monday to a first-degree misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child.

As part of his negotiated plea agreement with prosecutors, two counts of felony-graded child endangerment were withdrawn, court records state.

He was sentenced to 285 days to 23 months in York County Prison and was given credit for the 285 days he'd already spent there, making it a time-served sentence. He has been free on bail since December, according to prison records.

Ennis also was sentenced to an additional two years of probation, directed to undergo and drug and alcohol evaluation and ordered to comply with the directives of the York County Office of Children, Youth and Families, court records state.

Nearly died: Ennis' 14-month-old daughter nearly died and had a more-than-lethal dose of fentanyl in her system when hospital staff tested her, according to police.

Afterward, Ennis went on the lam, according to a "fatalities/near-fatalities" report from the state Department of Human Services.

The DHS report states that it's believed the girl ingested two or three fentanyl capsules while she and her 6-year-old brother were playing in their living room the day after Christmas 2017.

Ennis originally faced two counts of child endangerment because he put both children at risk by leaving the fentanyl within their reach, York Area Regional Police have said.

Police said the toddler was rushed to York Hospital and later transferred to Hershey Medical Center for specialized treatment. When she arrived at York Hospital, she was unresponsive and had shallow breathing, according to DHS.

The DHS report reveals she was given three doses of Narcan — which negates the effects of opioids — at York Hospital, a fourth dose en route to Hershey and a fifth dose at Hershey Medical Center.

She was hospitalized for two days, according to the DHS report.

Earlier investigation: The DHS report states that the York County Office of Children, Youth and Families was already involved with Ennis' family when the overdose happened.

On Dec. 6, 2017 — 20 days before Ennis' daughter ingested the fentanyl — child-welfare officials received a report that Ennis abused his son, according to the report.

Caseworkers investigated and on Jan. 19, 2018, determined the report was unfounded, according to DHS.

After the toddler's overdose, caseworkers created a safety plan for the family, and the child's mother was allowed to take her home, the DHS report states.

But during an unannounced home visit by caseworkers in December 2018, it was determined the mother had violated that plan, and both children were taken into protective custody, the report states.

Because there were no appropriate family members able to take in the siblings, they were placed in foster care, according to DHS.

Children, Youth and Families has recommended various services aimed at reunifying the family, including supervised visitation, parenting classes, random drug testing and providing an intensive family-services team, the DHS report states.

It's unclear whether the children remain in foster care.

The background: York Area Regional Police filed charges against Ennis on Jan. 25, 2018, according to court documents that indicate Ennis was on the run for about 14 months until being arraigned on his charges March 8, 2019.

According to those documents, an ambulance crew and police were dispatched to the Ennis home just before 7 p.m. Dec. 26, 2017, after Ennis called 911.

During the 911 call, Ennis described his daughter "as dying and being 'gone,'" according to court documents.

The toddler and her older brother were playing with toys in the living room of their home when she went to her mother and collapsed, police said.

Ennis told police he had fentanyl capsules inside a cigarette pack that was in his jacket pocket, and he said he left his jacket on the floor, documents allege.

Ennis could not be reached for comment. His defense attorney, Rick Robinson, could not immediately be reached for comment.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.