The son of the famed Brooklyn novelist Paul Auster was charged in the November death of his 10-month-old daughter, authorities said, after a toxicology report found that the infant overdosed on heroin and fentanyl.
Daniel Auster, 44, was arraigned Sunday on charges of second degree murder, criminally negligent homicide, and endangering the welfare of a child. Prosecutors said he was caring for his 10-month-old child, Ruby Auster, when she was found unconscious and unresponsive in their Park Slope apartment on November 1st.
Emergency responders rushed the child to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead the same day. An autopsy later determined the cause of death was acute intoxication of heroin and fentanyl, police said.
Auster, a 44-year-old Park Slope resident, admitted to injecting heroin on November 1st, according to a criminal complaint. He said that he took a nap with his daughter, placing her in the bed next to him, and found her lifeless and blue upon waking up.
He then administered Narcan, an overdose reversal treatment, in case she had been exposed to narcotics, prosecutors said.
Following his appearance in Brooklyn Criminal Court on Sunday, Auster’s bail was set at $100,000 cash and $250,000 bond. He did not immediately post bail. An attorney for Auster did not respond to requests for comment.
His father, Paul Auster, is the award-winning author of “The New York Trilogy,” “Sunset Park” and other novels. The narrator of his 2004 novel, “Oracle Night,” who is widely seen as a surrogate for the author, has a son who battles with drug addiction. His mother, Lydia Davis, is an acclaimed short story writer as well.
In 1998, when he was 20, Daniel Auster pleaded guilty to $3,000 in stolen property. The cash belonged to Andrew Melendez, a drug dealer who was killed by Michael Alig and Robert Riggs in the infamous “club kid” slaying. Auster was not implicated in the crime, according to reports at the time.
The 10-month-old’s death comes amid a spike in overdose incidents across the country, a trend that is largely driven by the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
More than 1,200 people died of overdoses in New York City in the first half of last year, a 78% spike from pre-pandemic levels and an increase from 2020, which saw a record number of fatal overdoses, according to newly-released city data.