locally owned since 1854

Middletown woman pleads no contest in death of her baby, will be sentenced in June to misdemeanors

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 4/12/18

A Middletown woman has pleaded no contest to charges that she was responsible for the death of her infant son at their residence in the borough Dec. 30, 2016.

Arissa Katelyn Ward, 24, pleaded no …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Middletown woman pleads no contest in death of her baby, will be sentenced in June to misdemeanors

Posted

A Middletown woman has pleaded no contest to charges that she was responsible for the death of her infant son at their residence in the borough Dec. 30, 2016.

Arissa Katelyn Ward, 24, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of children April 2 in Dauphin County Court before Judge William Tully, according to online court records.

Ward is scheduled to be sentenced June 11.

According to arrest papers filed by borough police, Ward told police she had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana before she lay down on the couch with her son at their residence in the 300 block of Lawrence Street on Dec. 30.

Ward told police that she thought she had rolled over on the boy, who was two months and five days old at the time.

Police arrested Ward after results of an autopsy of the infant conducted in January 2017 determined that the boy’s death was caused any complications of traumatic asphyxia combined with smothering.

Toxicology results from the autopsy also found that the boy had 0.65 nanogram 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 breastfeeding the boy, then-Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said during a press conference when Ward was arrested and charged May 25, 2017.

Marsico at the time used Ward’s case to illustrate and increase awareness of the danger of parents and other adults sleeping with children — a practice known as “co-sleeping.”

The county formed a task force to investigate what Marsico at the time said was a rising number of incidents in the county of children being killed as a result of co-sleeping.

The task force presented its findings to Dauphin County commissioners in November 2017. More information about the co-sleeping initiative can be on the Dauphin County website.

Ward in pleading no contest means that she neither admits to nor disputes the charges. Ward’s defense attorney Casey Grey Shore did not return a phone call from the Press & Journal seeking comment.

Also charged in the case was Ward’s boyfriend and the father of the infant, Arthur Thomas Livering of Middletown.

Charges of endangering the welfare of children and of possession of marijuana are still pending before Livering in Dauphin County Court.