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Fayette Parents Turn Themselves In To Face Charges In Children's Deaths

Reported by: Send eMail Leslie Rubin, Jeff Morris
Reported: Jun. 11, 2014 10:17 AM EDT
Updated: Jun. 11, 2014 4:20 PM EDT

Hilltop , West Virginia

Two Fayette County parents turned themselves in Wednesday to face charges in connection with the deaths of two young children.

Kyle Ralph Penson, 27, and Ashley Nicole Penson, 24, both of the Hilltop area, are charged with the felony offense of child neglect resulting in death, according to a news release from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office. They are accused in the deaths of their 3-month-old and 1-year-old children who were found unresponsive in March.

The sheriff’s office said based on the autopsy findings and the results of the criminal investigation into these deaths, criminal complaints were filed in the Fayette Magistrate Court. Court documents said both parents admitted during the investigation into this incident to consuming alcohol and/or drugs on the evening preceding the death of these two infants before going to sleep in the living room floor of their residence with all three of their young children. The investigation has determined that both children 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,” Fayette Sheriff Steve Kessler said. “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. This is why both parents have been charged with the felony offense of child neglect resulting in death.”

The sheriff added that there has been a great deal of interest in the community concerning the facts and circumstances surrounding these two tragic deaths.

“The sheriff’s office has a duty to both society at large, to the two deceased infants and to the parents themselves to conduct a complete, thorough and fair investigation before making a final determination or filing criminal charges in cases such as this,” Kessler said. “Investigations of this nature can take some time, but it’s more important to be careful and thorough than it is to be fast. Both of these parents are, of course, innocent of these alleged crimes until they are proven guilty in a court of law.”

Bond was set at $25,000 for each of them, and they were making arrangements on bond.

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office said charges have been filed against the parents in the deaths of two infant children in Fayette County earlier this year.

Both suspects are expected to turn themselves in Wednesday morning to the sheriff's office. They will be processed and then arraigned before a Fayette County magistrate.

In March, emergency crews responded to a mobile home in Hilltop after getting a report of an infant who wasn't breathing, followed by a second 911 call that another child in the same house wasn't breathing.

When police and EMS got to the trailer park, they found a 3-month-old boy and a 1-year-old girl unresponsive. Despite desperate attempts to revive the babies with CPR, they were pronounced dead by ER doctors at a nearby hospital.

The home was tested for carbon monoxide, and test results indicated that probably is not what killed the infants. The cause of death has never been released.

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