A Fouke, Ark., couple initially charged with manslaughter in the death of their 7-month-old daughter are now charged with second-degree murder in Miller County.
Crystal Morrow, 24, and Dustin Harley, 19, were arrested in February by the Miller County Sheriff’s Office in the September death of their 7-month-old daughter, Kimberly, and for endangering the welfare of a minor for the alleged suffering of Kimberly’s twin brother, who is expected to survive.
According to a probable cause affidavit, an emergency call was made Sept. 27, 2019, from the couple’s home in Fouke for help with the twins who were “having trouble breathing.” First responders attempted life saving measures which briefly revived Kimberly but she died at the scene. Kimberly’s brother was airlifted to a Texarkana hospital and later to a Little Rock hospital in dire medical condition.
Investigators noted the laundry room where the children slept in a day crib was allegedly “piled high with laundry” and crawling with roaches. Roaches were allegedly observed crawling in the crib. The couple allegedly told MCSO Investigator Patsy DeHart that Morrow had given the babies bottles early that morning and the night before. Morrow allegedly reported that she’d gone to check on the children when her father paid the home a visit.
Miller County’s Coroner, Dakota Bloyd, allegedly noted that Kimberly was wearing a full diaper, had secretions around her mouth, nose and ears and had dirty fingernails. Staff at Arkansas Children’s Hospital described Kimberly’s brother as severely dehydrated with signs of medical distress that any adult would recognize as an emergency.
An autopsy performed on Kimberly found she was in less than the 5th percentile for her age. Kimberly’s ribs were protruding and her eyes and fontanelle were allegedly sunken.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell formally charged the couple this month with second-degree murder in Kimberly’s death and with endangering the welfare of a minor for the alleged neglect of her twin brother.
Bail for Morrow and Harley is set at $50,000 and they remain in the Miller County jail.
If convicted, the couple faces six to 30 years for second-degree murder and a fine up to $15,000. If convicted of endangering the welfare of a minor, Morrow and Harley face up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.