Dad warned if he uses drugs, he’ll lose parental rights |

Dad warned if he uses drugs, he’ll lose parental rights

by Sheila Gardner

District Judge Dave Gamble warned a 34-year-old South Lake Tahoe man he would lose parental rights to his infant daughter if he keeps using marijuana and methamphetamine.

“While everyone is working toward reunification, you go smoke marijuana,” Gamble said to Christopher S. Qualls. “I can’t remember when I was angrier.”

Sentencing was delayed until Tuesday when Qualls failed to participate in a mandated parole and probation pre-sentence investigation and tested positive for marijuana while out of custody.

Gamble ordered Qualls jailed until the sentencing.

He sentenced Qualls to a suspended 4-year term in Nevada State Prison and placed him on three years probation.

Qualls must successfully complete Western Regional Drug Court in order to regain custody of the baby.

“You test positive one time for alcohol or controlled substances – one time – I’m ordering the drug court to inform me, and I’m sending you to prison. I will immediately order the district attorney to file termination of parental rights. Your rights are going to be terminated,” Gamble said.

“This is not a guardianship with your mother. Your daughter will be adopted,” Gamble said.

In addition to the criminal charges, Gamble is hearing the custody case involving the baby who is in the care of Child Protective Services.

“I don’t know how anybody can be a drug addict and a father. I am not going to have her (the child) raised by a drug-abusing, alcohol-abusing father because I am in charge of her now,” Gamble said.

Qualls pleaded guilty in August to being under the influence of a controlled substance, methamphetamine.

He was arrested Aug. 6 at the Tahoe Shores Mobile Home Park after neighbors reported hearing a screaming infant.

Deputies found Qualls’ baby daughter lying on a blanket in the residence that they said was in disarray.

According to reports, Qualls admitted injecting methamphetamine and said he traveled from Fresno from Reno on Amtrak with the baby the day before his arrest.

He told officers he had an argument with his girlfriend and threw items around the mobile home, but did not hurt the baby.

A deputy said although there were diapers and formula for the baby in the residence, he believed the infant was in “an environment of substantial danger” because of Qualls’ condition.

Qualls’ lawyer, Kris Brown, said her client had two years of sobriety, but started using drugs again.

“I’ve never been so horrified at my actions,” Qualls said. “I am committed to standing up for what is right. I want a chance to prove I can set right what I’ve done wrong.”

Qualls is subject to unannounced search and seizure and chemical testing.

“There should be no time you are not in treatment, drug court or aftercare,” Gamble said.

Referring to Qualls’ criminal record, Gamble said, “Five felonies is grotesque for a person your age or anybody’s age who all of a sudden decides he wants to be a daddy.”