The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

June 16, 2014

Co-sleeping allegedly led to deaths

The parents of two Fayette County children who were reported dead inside their home March 11 were arrested Wednesday on charges that they negligently used alcohol and/or marijuana before rolling over on the children during the night, causing the infants to suffocate, Fayette Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Sizemore reported.

The victims were 3-month-old Remington Penson and 1-year-old Jessie Penson.

Police arrested Ashley Nicole Penson, 24, and Kyle Ralph Penson, 27, both of the Hilltop area, on the felony charge of child neglect resulting in death following the Monday release of the State Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy reports, according to a press release by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.

Kyle Penson told police that he’d also smoked marijuana before going to bed, according to the criminal complaint filed in Fayette County Magistrate Court.

Neither parent was explicitly identified by police as having caused the death of either child.

The medical examiner ruled the manner of death “undetermined” and that “features of fatal asphyxia,” or suffocation, were evident in the deaths of both children.

State medical examiners ruled out any toxicological cause as “being significant” in the deaths.

Cpl. R.K. Perdue stated in the criminal complaint, “Based on prior training and experience in investigating the deaths of young children, I am aware that co-sleeping, the act of one or more parents sharing a bed with an infant child, is a significant risk factor in what are often classified as ‘overlay’ deaths.”

He added that “while there is absolutely no evidence” the Pensons intentionally harmed their children, “it is clear that both parents were grossly negligent in consuming alcohol and/or drugs prior to engaging in risky co-sleeping behavior with these infant children.”

They were arraigned in Fayette Magistrate Court on Wednesday. Bond for each was set at $25,000.

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