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Press Release

Couple Sentenced in Connection to Child’s Death from Fentanyl

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Yakima, Washington - Chief United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian sentenced Samantha Marie Tainewasher, age 39, to time served on one count of Involuntary Manslaughter, and one count of Use of a Communications Facility in the Commission of a Drug Felony. The Court also sentenced Tainewasher’s codefendant, Calvin James Hunt, age 52, to 24 months in federal prison on one count of Involuntary Manslaughter, one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl, and one count of Use of a Communications Facility in the Commission of a Drug Felony. Tainewasher and Hunt were convicted on November 16, 2023, following a jury trial. Chief District Judge Bastian imposed 3 years of federal supervision on both defendants upon their release from custody. Tainewasher is from Wapato, Washington. Hunt is from Toppenish, Washington.  

According to court documents and information disclosed at trial and sentencing, on March 29, 2020, Yakama Nation Police were dispatched to Tainewasher’s home in Wapato, Washington, to a report of an unresponsive fifteen-month-old child. When an officer arrived, Tainewasher ran toward the officer with her son in her arms. Unable to find a pulse and noting the blue tinge on the child’s lips, the officer began CPR. The child was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased. A toxicology report later found the child died from ingesting fentanyl.

During the investigation, the FBI seized Hunt’s phone. On the phone was a video recorded on March 27. The video pans over the Tainewasher’s bed and shows methamphetamine, a fentanyl-laced pill, and drug paraphernalia.

The FBI obtained Facebook records concerning Tainewasher and Hunt. The Facebook records showed that Hunt and Tainewasher engaged in buying and selling heroin, methamphetamine, and pills. Tainewasher also made Facebook posts acknowledging her addiction and use of drugs led to her son’s death.

“This case is incredibly tragic and heartbreaking. A 15-month-old child, whose parents are members of the Yakama Nation, ingested a deadly amount of fentanyl while in the care of his mother, who was just a few feet away. No sentence will be able to replace the loss of life of this young victim. The fentanyl epidemic continues to claim lives and inflict havoc on families from all walks of life,” stated Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. “I’m very proud of my team of prosecutors, who work tirelessly to vindicate victims’ rights and who devote their careers to seeking justice on behalf of the most vulnerable among us.”

This case was investigated by the FBI. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Ellis and Timothy J. Ohms.


Robert Curry 

Public Affairs Specialist 

Updated May 28, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Indian Country Law and Justice