Woman charged in Christmas Eve suffocation death of Englewood 6-year-old

Reporter: Stanley B. Chambers Jr.
Published: Updated:

SARASOTA, Fla. – The live-in girlfriend of a father accused of suffocating his son to death on Christmas Eve has been charged in relation to the incident, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

Ashley MayMarie Cole, 22, of 920 Lord St. in Englewood, was arrested and charged Monday with principal to aggravated manslaughter of a child. She remained in the Sarasota County jail under no bond.

Cole was charged because she did not help the child after he yelled that he could not breathe, investigators said in court documents.

James Dearman, 31, has been charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Dearman was playing video games with Cole when he became angry after his son, James, wouldn’t go to bed, investigators said.

Dearman initially made the boy stand in a corner as punishment, but the child was looking at the video game instead of the wall, investigators said.

“Cole described how Dearman forced the victim to lie on his side, on the couch, with his face against the rear couch cushions as the victim’s feet were pinned behind Cole’s back,” court documents said. “Dearman pinned the victim against the couch using his body weight while the child victim attempted to free himself and screamed that he could not breathe.”

Dearman is six feet, one inch tall and weighs 270 pounds, investigators said.

As the couple continued playing the video game, the boy screamed and attempted to free himself for five minutes until he stopped moving, investigators said.

The child was motionless for another 10 minutes while the couple went to the garage to smoke, investigators said.

When they returned, they noticed James remained motionless.

“Cole observed the victim’s lips were blue and was not breathing and she ran into the garage to pray,” court documents said.

Dearman called 911 and performed CPR until paramedics arrived, investigators said. The boy was pronounced dead at Englewood Hospital.

The child died from “some form of asphyxiation, based upon the pressure applied to the child’s back,” court documents said.

Dearman’s seven-year-old daughter, who witnessed the incident, told investigators her brother had to use the bathroom, but when he was denied by Dearman, the boy urinated on himself and his father.

“When dad squished him, he got dead,” the girl said, according to court documents.

The girl was taken into custody by the state Department of Children and Families. The agency said they had no previous contact with the family.

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