Couple arrested in suffocation of baby

By News4Jax.com Staff, webteam@wjxt.com
Published On: Sep 03 2014 05:10:10 PM EDT
Updated On: Sep 03 2014 05:17:42 PM EDT

Ware County Sheriff's Office booking photos of Ashley Lee and Chelseay Arnold

WAYCROSS, Ga. -

The Ware County Sheriff's Office has charged a Waycross couple with involuntary manslaughter in what they call the accidental suffocation of their 1-month-old child.

Gavin Arnold died early the morning of June 23 at the family's home on Will Lee Road.  The investigation revealed that the baby was sleeping in the bed with his mother, Chelseay Arnold, 20, and her boyfriend, 45-year-old Ashley Lee. According to the Sheriff's Office, both adults were under the influence of amphetamine at the time and Arnold and Lee waited 30 to 40 minutes after finding the infant unresponsive before calling 911.

The medical examiner determined the child's cause of death was "asphyxia due to adverse sleep environment."

The Sheriff's Office report goes on to say:
"The residence was found to be in poor livable conditions with the residence being extremely dirty inside, an open panel box, open sewer, open electrical lines in the yard, etc.  Ware County Planning & Codes Officer James Shubert was notified and he responded to the location to cite all the Codes violations to ensure the residence was brought up to a livable, safe standard. Ware County DFACS was also notified and responded to the scene, due to the severity of the circumstances."

When deputies went to the home last week to make the arrest, Arnold was found hiding inside. Lee was arrested at a Bacon County home without incident.

"This was a tragic situation that could have been avoided if the child’s caretakers had used reasonable precautions in their care of that baby boy," Ware County Sheriff Randy F. Royal said. "This arrest came when it did in order to ensure no one rushed to judgment and an in-depth investigation could be completed."

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