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UPDATE: Parents arrested in Hilltop baby deaths

Local - 6/11/2014 4:09 PM by Rachael Cardin

FAYETTEVILLE – A married couple is arrested in connection with the deaths two of their infants in Fayette County earlier this year.

Sheriff Steve Kessler says Kyle Ralph Penson, 27, and Ashley Nicole Penson, 24, both of Hilltop, turned themselves in Wednesday morning after their attorneys notified them Tuesday that criminal warrants had been issued for their arrests. They're each facing two felony counts of child neglect resulting in death.

Kessler says 911 dispatchers were notified on March 11 that a 1 year-old girl and a 3 month-old boy were unconscious and not breathing at a residence in the Mountainair mobile home park. Officers responded to the scene and initiated CPR on the infants until EMS arrived.

The infants were transported to Plateau Medical Center where they were pronounced dead.

A third young child was also sent to the hospital as a precaution, but was found to be in good health.

Autopsies were performed the following morning and a report on the findings was received on Monday. Kessler says the investigation has determined that both children apparently died due to parental overlay during the nighttime hours. Kessler said, "we were waiting for an autopsy report from the chief medical examiner’s office in Charleston. We received that report on June 9th, Monday, after receiving that the officer went ahead and got warrants of both the Pensons for child neglect resulting in death."

The criminal complaint states that the parents admitted to consuming alcohol or drugs the evening before the deaths, and then slept on the living room floor with their children that night. "You shouldn't have two perfectly healthy children at the same time die in a residence. There has to be a cause, what caused that. We believe. We know what the cause was, and I believe the criminal complaint that the officer filed basically said these people had been drinking, and probably doing drugs and at some point rolled over on these children," said Kessler.

Kessler added, "I think we've done a thorough and fair investigation. I think we’re heading in the right direction I think we did the right thing, and like I said, there's no point in being in a hurry because you can't undo what happened. What you can do is make sure you get justice for these children."

Ashley Penson has posted bail, but Kyle Penson remains in Southern Regional Jail on $25,000 bond.


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