In the courtroom of Carter County District Judge Thomas Baldwin Tuesday, jurors convicted Ashley Dawn Pearson, 31, of Shawnee, on a felony count of child neglect.
According to District Attorney Craig Ladd, the evidence presented to jurors was that on the evening of June 4, 2018, the employees of an area grocery store became concerned for the safety of a 4-year-old child. The adult female accompanying the child was on store property for approximately one and a half hours. Witnesses claimed Pearson appeared confused, did not know where she was, was agitated and had difficulty standing still. Testimony included an incident in which after 45 minutes at the gas pump, Pearson was still unable to get $4 worth of gasoline that she had purchased into her vehicle. She had gone inside the store several times, spending about 30 minutes in the bathroom where she had spilled the entire contents of her purse onto the bathroom floor.
According to Ladd, Carter County Sheriff’s Deputy David Jones, a 12-year veteran in law enforcement, responded to the welfare check. He testified that when he arrived on scene and made contact with Pearson he immediately recognized what he knew to be signs of methamphetamine use. Jones told jurors that Pearson had extreme difficulty standing still, was seeing helicopters that were not present, indicated that people were following her and tried to convince the deputy that her 4-year-old child had ‘secret’ information about a murder. When Deputy Jones asked her the cause of her condition she told him that she and her husband had shot up methamphetamine; she then showed him an injection site, described by Deputy Jones as a “track mark.”
According to Ladd, Melinda Landreth, a case worker for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, was the final witness for the state. She described arriving at the Springer Food Mart and hearing Pearson, who was in the patrol car, screaming about helicopters, her husband having shot her up with methamphetamine and people standing behind the deputy’s vehicle. Landreth testified that Pearson was so “high” that her signature was not obtained for the placement documentation as usually required by the department. Landreth then told the jury she interviewed Pearson in the Carter County Jail three days later. At the time of the subsequent interview Pearson’s demeanor had completely changed. She was no longer “fidgety,” did not seem “high” and was calm and rational. Pearson refused to sign a medical release for the Department of Human Services and when asked whether she would pass a drug test indicated that she would not.
After 45 minutes of deliberations the jury returned the guilty verdict, followed shortly by a recommendation of three years of incarceration. The conviction carries an 85 percent sentence, meaning she must serve at least 85 percent of the three years before becoming eligible for parole.
“On behalf of the District Attorney’s office, we greatly appreciate the jurors’ service on this trial and believe that their verdict and recommended sentence are supported by the law and the evidence,” Ladd said. “Also, I want to commend the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, specifically Deputy David Jones, for his assistance in this matter. And finally, I want to express my sincere appreciation for Assistant District Attorney Jessica Underwood for the outstanding manner in which she presented the case to the jury in this matter.”