Charges reduced for man first suspected of letting girl eat meth

A Washington father has been released from the Jackson County Jail and his charges reduced despite early reports that he allegedly let his 6-year-old daughter eat a crystal of methamphetamine.

Elijah Benyshua Benbow, 28, of Seattle, was arraigned in Jackson County Circuit Court on Tuesday on charges of possession of methamphetamine, driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless endangering and endangering the welfare of a minor.

He was arrested Monday on additional serious charges, including charges of first-degree child neglect and delivery of methamphetamine, but those charges weren't filed in court, according to court records.

Nick Geil, the prosecutor handling the case, said he believes the charges heard in court Tuesday are appropriate, but declined to discuss the facts of the case, citing ethical restraints regarding open cases.

He said he plans to talk to the deputy further about the report.

The report says that the girl told the deputy that she had swallowed methamphetamine, Jackson County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Andrea Carlson said.

The deputy on scene reported that the child said she had a stomachache, but didn't show signs of meth intoxication, Carlson said. The deputy immediately called for medical assistance to help the child.

The girl was taken to an area hospital for treatment, but has since been released and placed in foster care, Carlson said.

The case started Monday evening when several callers reported a man acting suspiciously around 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Burger King at 459 S. Valley View Road, Ashland, the Sheriff's Department said in a news release. A deputy went to check it out, but the man already had headed north on Interstate 5 in a silver, 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser with Washington plates.

A deputy found the vehicle speeding near Rogue River and stopped it at I-5's exit 48. Benbow was reportedly shaking badly, fidgeting and could not stop moving, leading the deputy to suspect he was under the influence of drugs. Benbow's 6-year-old daughter was sitting in the backseat.

The deputy asked Benbow to step out of the vehicle so they could talk away from the child, officials said. Benbow denied any use of intoxicants. He told the deputy his daughter had taken some money and hid it from him, so that's why he was acting strangely in the Burger King parking lot.

The deputy then got permission to talk to the girl. She told the deputy she ate something from a small container that looked like a "rock" and was "sort of gray" in color, the news release said. After speaking with the daughter, the deputy put Benbow in handcuffs and advised him of his Miranda rights.

The deputy asked to search the vehicle and was given permission, the news release said. During the search, 5.37 grams of methamphetamine was found. The daughter identified the methamphetamine found in a baggy as the same substance she had eaten.

Benbow failed field sobriety tests and was taken to the Jackson County Jail. In court Tuesday, Judge Benjamin Bloom barred him from having contact with the girl.

Correction: The headline has been changed to reflect the story more accurately.


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