Charges dropped against Georgia couple who allowed their teen to smoke pot to fight seizures; family reunited

David Ray reunited with mother, Suzeanna Brill, and family after Twiggs court hearing

Charges dropped against Georgia couple who allowed their teen to smoke pot to fight seizures; family reunited
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Charges dropped against Georgia couple who allowed their teen to smoke pot to fight seizures; family reunited

A mother and stepfather who allowed their 15-year-old son to smoke marijuana to help with his seizures were allowed to take the teen home after he spent more than two months in foster care.

After a juvenile court hearing Monday, David Ray left the Twiggs County courthouse with Suzeanna and Matthew Brill, who were arrested in April and charged with reckless conduct after they admitted to allowing their son to smoke pot to help stop seizures.

The reckless conduct charges against the Brills also were dropped Monday, according to Superior Court records.

In making its recommendation, the Division of Family and Children Services “is looking at whether or not a child is safe in their home," Suzeanna Brill’s lawyer, Lauren Deal, told The Telegraph. "I think the overwhelming evidence is that David is safe in his mother’s home."

David also was reunited with his service dog, Malory Jane Knox, who is able to detect a seizure and signal to warn of its occurrence up to five minutes in advance, Suzeanna Brill said.

"Since April 20, he’s been out of the home and away from her," she said sitting on the couch with two other dogs at her apartment in Macon. "She’s 100 percent effective."

Deal said the kinds of seizures David has, in his temporal lobe and hippocampus, can be difficult for the average person to detect.

"It can be mistaken for someone who is just really off in space (or) thinking very deeply, like day dreaming," Deal said. "DFCS and the foster families really were not set up to be able to know when he was having a seizure."

David will regularly be tested for marijuana use and will have to meet with DFCS representatives twice a month for up to a year, Deal said.

A woman who answered the phone for Dublin Judicial Circuit Juvenile Judge Samuel Hilbun said the judge declined to comment on the open case.

Suzeanne Brill said David was seizure-free while he was smoking the plant from Feb. 8 through April 19. After he was taken into state custody, "he was unconscious for four days," she said. "They had to life-flight him from (the Medical Center, Navicent Health, in Macon) to Egleston Hospital (Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta)."

The Brill's story made national headlines in May, prompting Sheriff Darren Mitchum to hold a news conference where he defended his office's decision to charge them with reckless conduct.

This past Friday, almost a month after the Brill's arrest became a national news story, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed a brief asking for David to be reunited with his parents.

A happy beginning

David now takes a pharmaceutical anticonvulsant that has serious side effects and, in the past, even caused him to have grand mal seizures, Suzeanna Brill said.

Next week, David is set to meet with a doctor and explore other possible options for treatment, including registering with the state for legal use of low THC oil. David has tried using CBD oil, which is also made from cannabis but lacks the psychoactive ingredient, but it didn't work.

A black and white flag with green marijuana leaves on it hangs in David's room over his bed. He showed a Telegraph reporter several of his T-shirts that had cannabis-themed slogans including, "flower power" and "Don’t panic it’s organic."

He said his mother bought them for him.

"I’m a pothead from way back," Suzeanna said. "It’s a plant God gave us. He put it here for medicinal use. … It’s not about the cannabis, it’s making sure the kid’s right."

Asked if she thought the dropped charges and return of her son was a happy ending, Suzeanna Brill plainly said, "No."

"It’s a happy beginning," she said. "Hopefully we can get something accomplished for more than just David in the state of Georgia ... Cause if I can’t take care of my kid here, I can’t be here."