Two charged with neglect in child's death
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. -- Carson Edwards never received much of a chance at life.
West Virginia State Police believe the 20-month-old child died "a long agonizing death" with abuse beginning when the infant was only a few months old, the product of his parents' drug addiction as they traded government benefits to purchase food for methamphetamine and other drugs, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
State Police Sgt. Larry G. O'Bryan secured charges against the boy's parents, Jimmie Ray Edwards, 25, and Carla Marie Adkins, 31. Both are charged with child neglect resulting in death.
"The child had no voice to say it was hurting," he said. "He never developed speech. He never developed the ability to stand due to the developmental deficiencies of not getting the proper nutrition."
O'Bryan filed criminal complaints charging that Jimmie Edwards and Adkins used the boy's federal nutrition benefits to purchase baby formula. Adkins told police the boy's father returned the formula to stores soon thereafter for cash, money which he used to purchase meth and other drugs.
The parents replaced the boy's formula with cow's milk. Its ingestion, combined with the absence of medical care, led to profound anemia and consequently Carson Edwards' death in March 2013, according to the criminal complaints.
O'Bryan said troopers believe the couple each week spent $70 for meth, $30 for marijuana, $20 for alcohol and $10 for tobacco.
"It was a definite choice not to give the child its necessary nutrients," the trooper said.
O'Bryan credited Adkins' statement with providing information about the trade of WIC benefits from the federal government's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The program served approximately 620 recipients in Mason County and more than 43,000 statewide as of late May, according to Cindy Pillo, whose state Office of Nutrition Services allocates the federal benefits to state residents.
O'Bryan said it was unclear Tuesday whether Carson Edwards continued receiving those benefits until his death.
That answer may lead to additional questions, as Pillo spoke in generalities saying her program requires clinical visits every six months to ensure the recipient still meets federal guidelines. That includes income certification and the presence of an "at-risk" medical or nutritional need, such as anemia. She said missing those appointments will spur a reminder, and continued non-compliance will lead to termination.
Pillo could not speak to specifics of the Edwards' case, but said her office prides itself on a strong referral component. It refers the recipient to a physician when a clinical visit detects a medical issue. She said her office would not be notified if the patient failed to keep the referral appointment.
O'Bryan's complaint states Jimmie Edwards refused to allow his son to attend doctor visits because of his doubts over whether he fathered the boy, according to Adkins' statement to State Police as cited in the criminal complaints.
That stood in contrast to Jimmie Edwards' treatment of his 4-year-old daughter. He never doubted that paternal relationship and she made every wellness visit as directed by physicians, the complaints state.
"(Jimmie Edwards) never developed any type of bond with that child," O'Bryan said of Carson Edwards.
WIC, created in 1972, provides monthly waivers worth $32 to $125 to purchase certain groceries. The list includes milk, eggs, tuna, carrots, dried beans, peanut butter, natural cheese, iron-fortified cereals, infant formula and Vitamin-C rich natural juices.
The program benefits infants and children up to their fifth birthday, breastfeeding mothers up to the infant's first birthday and pregnant women, including some up to six months after the pregnancy ends.
Recipients must meet income guidelines and be medically or nutritionally at risk as determined by a medical professional. Qualifying risks include significant variances from the expected height or weight, low intake of essential nutrients and several conditions that predispose a person to inadequate nutrition patterns.
Earning guidelines require a gross household income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, currently $44,123 for a family of four.
O'Bryan based his criminal complaints upon medical records and Adkins' statement to State Police.
Adkins was incarcerated at 9:45 p.m. Monday, followed by Edwards at 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Western Regional Jail. Mason County Magistrate Gail Roush set each defendant's bond at $500,000.
Follow reporter Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.
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