Avon couple faces trial in their baby’s death
EAGLE — An Avon couple will stand trial in the death of their infant daughter.
Patrick Williams and Lossie Thomas are charged with two felony counts of child abuse resulting in death. If convicted they face up to 48 years in prison.
After their preliminary hearing finished last week, District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman said there was enough evidence to send the case to trial.
Prosecutor Joe Kirwan outlined a pattern of inaction and neglect that led to 6-month-old Paris Belle Williams’ death.
Defense attorneys Dorothea Reiff and Cynthia Jones argued that Williams and Thomas are overwhelmed, working adults with two other children, who worked opposite shifts to try to make it all work.
Paris was born premature, given medical care and a clean bill of health and no pattern of conduct indicated the kind of criminal neglect that would lead to the baby’s death, Reiff said.
Dr. Robert A. Kurtzman, who did the autopsy on the child, said Paris died from pneumonia. Kurtzman said the baby had symptoms that were “obvious to any caregiver.”
“This is a child that was neglected,” Kurtzman said.
The baby did not look like it was physically abused, in terms of being shaken or hit, Kurtzman said. However, it was under weight, dehydrated, suffered from staph and E. coli infections, and suffered sores on its body. It takes “days” to reach this level of dehydration, Kurtzman said
“Infants cannot communicate,” Kurtzman said. “They’ll become cranky or inconsolable, their breathing becomes labored, eventually they become listless and don’t even feed,” Kurtzman said.
When Paris died June 9, she was below weight and bony prominences were evident, Kurtzman said.
“She was an emaciated child,” Kurtzman said.
The sores on her legs would take days to develop, Kurtzman said, and had not been cleaned or dressed.
The lungs weighed twice what they should normally weigh because they were inflamed and the air spaces were filled with puss, Kurtzman said.
That would make it difficult to breathe, and would take days to weeks to happen, Kurtzman said.
Baby’s not breathing
According to the arrest affidavit, Williams returned to their one-bedroom EagleBend apartment after work to find Thomas on the couch. When he entered, she told him there was something wrong with the baby and that Paris was not breathing correctly. He went into the bedroom to find the baby not breathing. He became extremely agitated and told Thomas to call an ambulance.
When Avon police detective Aurion Hassinger arrived at the apartment, Williams was performing CPR on the baby.
The baby had been suffering from a cold for a couple of days, and Thomas used a suction ball to clear Paris’ nose and mouth.
Thomas said she did not call 911 because she thought she might be over-reacting, Hassinger said.
Hassinger said he had responded to domestic disputes between Thomas and Williams; she once bit Williams and another time when she violated a restraining order, ordering her to stay sway from Williams, he said.
Paris was declared dead at the Vail Valley Medical Center.
Hassinger said doctors at the hospital told him the baby had sores on its body consistent with not having its diaper changed, and bruises and abrasions on the baby’s feet and left hand that often stem from rubbing and kicking against a cradle or crib.
An absence of fat is consistent with malnourishment, and tight skin is consistent with dehydration, Hassinger said the doctors told him.
The baby was being treated for severe diaper rash, Hassinger said during questioning by Reiff.
Benjamin Linscott, deputy coroner, was called to the apartment and said it was “almost total squalor.”
He said the first thing that he noticed was the stale air and overpowering smell.
“I had trouble breathing,” Linscott said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.