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Case of Middletown woman charged in death of her baby heading to Dauphin County Court

By Dan Miller danmiller@pressandjournal.com
Posted 7/11/17

The Middletown woman charged in the December 2016 death of her infant son waived a preliminary hearing on July 6, meaning that the charges are going to Dauphin County Court.

Arissa Katelyn …

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Case of Middletown woman charged in death of her baby heading to Dauphin County Court

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The Middletown woman charged in the December 2016 death of her infant son waived a preliminary hearing on July 6, meaning that the charges are going to Dauphin County Court.

Arissa Katelyn Ward, 23, will face charges of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of children. She is free after posting $50,000 unsecured bail, and is scheduled to be arraigned in county court before Judge John F. Cherry on Sept. 1, according to online court documents.

Ward was charged by borough police on May 25, following the investigation into the death of her 2-month, 5-day-old son at their residence in the 300 block of Lawrence Street on Dec. 30.

Ward’s boyfriend and the father of the child, Arthur Thomas Livering of Middletown, on July 6 also waived his preliminary hearing on charges of endangering the welfare of children, and possession of marijuana. Livering had been released on his own recognizance and is also to be arraigned on the charges before Cherry on Sept. 1.

According to court papers, Ward told police that she had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana before lying down on the couch with her son. Ward told police that she thought she had rolled over on the boy.

Police arrested Ward after results of an autopsy conducted in January determined that the boy’s death was caused by complications of traumatic asphyxia combined with smothering.

Toxicology results from the autopsy also found that the boy had 0.65 nanograms of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — in the boy’s system at the time of his death. The THC was in the infant because Ward had been breast feeding the boy, county District Attorney Ed Marsico said during a press conference on the day of Ward’s arrest.

Marsico emphasized that Ward had cooperated with investigators from when police responded to Ward’s residence to find the child unresponsive on the couch on Dec. 30. The arrest prompted Marsico calling the press conference to increase awareness of the danger of parents and other adults sleeping with children — a phenomenon known as “co-sleeping.”

Marsico at the time also announced formation of a county task force to investigate what the DA said was a rising number of incidents in the county of children being killed as a result of co-sleeping. The task force is expected to come forth with recommendations sometime in September.

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