BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Thursday, July 16, 2020, at 11 am UPDATE – A woman who was found guilty of killing her infant has been sentenced to prison.
Ariel Bennett was sentenced to 5-25 years in prison for child neglect resulting in death.
Once she is released she will be on 50 years of extended supervision. She must also register on the child abuse and neglect list for 10 years upon release. She is ordered to pay a fine of 11,000 dollars.
BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – A guilty verdict came down on Friday for the Raleigh County woman who has now been convicted in the death of her infant and could face up to 5 to 25 years behind bars.
Back in November of 2015, Ariel Bennett was accused of child neglect resulting in death after she allegedly rolled over on her infant daughter while intoxicated.
After a week-long trial, she was found guilty on all three counts with one count of child neglect resulting in death and two counts of gross child neglect with risk of serious injury or death.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller says it was all about proving the neglect.
“The first thing we’re saying is: ‘Did she intentionally suffocate the baby?’ She’s drunk. She clearly doesn’t give a crap about her children,” she said. “Well, we couldn’t prove that, so we charged her with what we can without a reasonable doubt prove.”
Keller spent the week showing the jury signs of neglect like pictures, proof of the excessive drinking Bennett had done that day, the poor living conditions of the home and the mannerisms of both Bennett and her husband after their child died in video interviews with Detective Morgan Bragg.
“It’s inconceivable,” Keller said. “How could you have no reaction? Two days after she smothered her baby, you saw the recordings. She’s laughing. She’s nonchalant. She’s lying.”
Keller said the lack of care shown by both Ariel Bennett and her husband, Andrew, in the trial was a compelling piece of evidence.
She also mentioned their other children as two were removed from the home and one was recently removed at birth as Ariel got pregnant again after the death of their child.
“It’s as if babies and children are paper towels. You make them. You throw them away,” Keller said.
Keller went on to say that this case sends the message that being under the influence is no excuse for harm, injury or death of a child.
“People need to understand it’s not just Child Protective Services they have to worry about. It’s not just their children being removed they have to worry about. It is the law. They will go to prison.”
Andrew Bennett was also charged with child neglect resulting in death as he provided the alcohol and then left Ariel alone with their children.
He plead guilty and will serve 1-5 years in prison.
Ariel will appear back in court on April 16 for sentencing.