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Fayette couple charged in deaths of two infants

HILLTOP (AP) — A Fayette County couple was arrested Wednesday on neglect charges stemming from the deaths of two of their children, who were unintentionally smothered while sleeping with them, Sheriff Steve Kessler said.

Kyle Ralph Penson, 27, and Ashley Nicole Penson, 24, of Hilltop turned themselves in Wednesday morning. Both were charged with child neglect resulting in death, Kessler said in a news release.

Deputies responding to a 911 call March 11 found two infants unconscious and not breathing at the family’s mobile home in Hilltop. They performed CPR until an emergency crew arrived. The children were taken to a local hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

An investigation and autopsy determined that both infants apparently died due to parental overlay, Kessler said.

Overlay is unintentional smothering resulting from a person rolling onto a child while sleeping with them.

“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,” Kessler said in the 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.”

Both parents told investigators that they had consumed alcohol and/or drugs the previous evening, and then went to sleep with the infants, along with a third child, on the living room floor. They were charged with child neglect resulting in death because their consumption of alcohol or drugs reduced the likelihood that they would be awakened by the children’s distress, the sheriff said.

The third child was taken to the hospital as a precaution and was found to be in good health.

A Fayette County magistrate set $25,000 bonds for the couple during their arraignment on Wednesday. Their attorneys did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment.

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