LOS LUNAS, N.M. — Correction officials claim children's paintings sent to an inmate, left him dead. Now his girlfriend is facing serious charges.
That's because the artwork wasn't made with the kind of paint you buy at a store, it was made out of drugs, and mailed to the man in prison.
Prison officials said 47-year-old Shari Stone was able to pull a fast one with a new technique to smuggle drugs to a prisoner. He licked the drugs off the paintings and died. Now she's charged in his death.
The smiley sun and yellow ducky look like any other children's artwork. There are notes about missing and loving daddy, but the paintings are not normal water color pictures. The yellow paint is actually made with a crushed up drug.
Shannon McReynolds, with the Department of Corrections, said, "Grind it into a powder mix it with water and use it as kind of a water color in a child's picture. The inmate is then able to lick the Suboxone off the page."
Suboxone is a prescription drug meant to help heroin users kick the habit. But alone, Suboxone gives a euphoric high.
Officials said that's probably how Joseph Segura felt before he overdosed on the drug and died inside the state prison in Los Lunas last year. The paintings, which were found in his cell, also tested positive for the drug.
McReynolds said this is a new technique, one they are adding to the list of things to look for in an inmate's mail.
Every piece of mail sent to or from an inmate is opened and checked by prison officials.
"We cut all the stamps off, inmates are not allowed to possess stamps in prison," said McReynolds. That's because drug powder is often hidden on the sticky side.
McReynolds said people go to great lengths to get drugs or other contraband to inmates.
"They will try to make a separation between the layers of the card and insert black tar heroin or something like that between the layers of the card," said McReynolds. "People will try to send in religious books and within the book there will be a cutout the pages will be cut out in the shape of a cell phone."
McReynolds said Suboxone, tobacco, and cell phones are the most smuggled contraband. If someone does try to send something illegal to an inmate they are slapped with a felony charge.
As far as Sheri Stone, who is charged in Joseph Segura's death, online court records show she has never been in trouble before the involuntary manslaughter indictment this month.