FAIRMONT — Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Freeman empaneled a special grand jury this week to hear evidence in four cases.
Grand jurors handed down indictments against a man and his girlfriend for the March 2021 death of the woman’s 4-year-old son.
Walter Everett Richardson III, 34, was indicted Sept. 21 on one count each of first-degree murder and death of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian. Also indicted was Richardson’s girlfriend, Ashlee Starlene Allen, 27, on one count of death of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian.
Richardson’s and Allen’s charges stem from a March 4 Fairmont Police investigation that began shortly before 9 a.m. that day when officers arrived at a home in the 1000 block of Green Street in Fairmont where they found the boy “unresponsive” and “with visible blood on his clothing,” states the criminal complaint. Crews from the Marion County Rescue Squad were carrying the child down a flight of stairs when police arrived.
The child — referred to as GA in the criminal complaint — was transported to Fairmont Medical Center where he was intubated and stabilized so he could be transported to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown where he was placed in the pediatric intensive care unit.
“Further review of the juvenile’s injuries showed trauma to the head of the four-year-old and additional bruises throughout his body. The juvenile had lacerations to his lips and broken teeth,” states the complaint.
“The upper back of the juvenile had visible shoe imprint markings.” Police said the child had “in excess of 50 injuries” to his body. Police charged Richardson with first-degree murder on March 8, two days after the boy’s “bodily functions were stopped” when he was taken off life support.
Fairmont Police arrested Allen on March 27 and charged her with one count of child abuse causing death after their investigation found she had a role in the death of her child.
“Ashlee Allen knowingly allowed Walter Richardson to act as custodian to juvenile GA on March 4, 2021, while knowingly aware of previously reported child abuse involving Walter Richardson and the juvenile, which resulted in the death of juvenile GA,” states the report.
Further investigation into the child’s circumstances found that the March 2021 assault was not the first time, police said, Richardson had beaten the child.
In a Jan. 25 interview with Child Protective Services, the child told social workers “Walter intentionally hurt him and was scared of Walter and did not feel safe with him,” according to the criminal complaint for his mother’s arrest for one count of child abuse causing death, which took place on March 27.
After the child’s interview in January, the CPS worker drafted a temporary child protection plan and gave it to his mother to follow.
“The plan was in effect for seven (7) days or until an additional assessment could be conducted. The plan advised that Walter would not be around the child until an assessment was conducted by Marion County CPS,” states the criminal complaint.
Both Richardson and Allen remain in the North Central Regional Jail where their bonds are set at $500,012 each.