Fayette County parents charged in infants' deaths - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Fayette County parents charged in infants' deaths

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FAYETTE COUNTY (WVVA) - A Fayette County couple has been charged with the deaths of their two infants after an investigation reveals the children were suffocated while sleeping with their parents.

Kyle Ralph Penson, 27, and Ashley Nicole Penson, 24, both of the Hilltop area, turned themselves in to authorities Wednesday morning after being notified Tuesday of warrants being issued for their arrests. Both have been charged with child neglect resulting in death.

According to our previous report, the children -- ages three months and one year -- were found unresponsive in their home on the morning of March 11. The children were transported to a nearby hospital where they were pronounced dead.

A "comprehensive and thorough" pathological examination was performed by the state medical examiner's office following the deaths. The results were returned on Monday.

According to a news release from the Fayette County Sheriff's Office, both suspects admitted to consuming alcohol and/or drugs on the night preceding the children's deaths. The two then went to sleep in the living room floor of their home with all three of their children. The sheriff's department investigation has determined that the victims apparently died due to "parental overlay" during the nighttime hours.

“Co-sleeping -- the act of parents sleeping in the same bed with young infant children -- poses a significant risk of death to these young children,” Sheriff Steve Kessler said in a news release. “It is very easy for an adult to roll over in his or her sleep and restrict an infant’s breathing. This can result in death very quickly."

"According to the criminal complaint, both parents admitted that they consumed alcohol and/or drugs before lying down in the floor to sleep with these young children. This significantly increased the risk factor for these children, as the chemically-enhanced stupor of the parents made it less likely that they would have been awakened by the distress of these infants as their oxygen supply was reduced through parental overlay," Kessler added.

"This is why both parents have been charged with the felony offense of Child Neglect Resulting in Death,” he said.

If convicted, the suspects face 3-15 years in prison and a $1,000-$5,000 fine for each charge. The couple is not allowed to have contact with their other child, a 4-year-old.

Ashley Penson posted her $25,000 bond.  Kyle Penson was sent to Southern Regional Jail in lieu of bond. 


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