Bedford couple charged in baby's hotel death

David Hurst, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
·2 min read

Mar. 31—BEDFORD — A Bedford couple face involuntary manslaughter charges, accused of "recklessly" sleeping with their infant while high on methamphetamine the night the child died inside a Bedford motel room.

Blood tests showed the 3-month-old child also had a small amount of the illegal stimulant in its system the night of her death Jan. 2, according to Pennsylvania state police.

Kailey Jo Hughes, 31, and Shawn Patrick Allison, 44, are also accused of attempting to mislead police about what happened that night and attempting to acquire bleach and baking soda to pass a drug test afterward.

In a criminal complaint, Trooper Nickolas Luciano said he sought the charges based on "a pattern of substance abuse around (the child), a pattern of domestic violence, their inability to maintain a residence with proper facilities for their infant and their high level of intoxication at the time of (the child's) death."

According to the five-page affidavit included with the complaint, Hughes and Allison were staying at the Super 8 motel in Bedford Township through Community Action funds because the family was homeless.

Both said the infant slept between them in their bed, according to police.

Neighbors reported that the couple fought often and that they heard the couple arguing before 911 was called early Jan. 2.

At one point, Hughes allegedly told her boyfriend, "You killed my baby," Luciano wrote.

But when interviewed by police, Hughes and Allison provided different stories — each saying the baby was sleeping up against the other when they noticed it was unresponsive.

In a follow-up interview, Hughes described Allison as abusive, and a relative told police that the man allegedly told her they "need to stick together" on their story.

Police said Hughes admitted to having drug problems and that their baby was born drug-dependent, and she said Allison was withdrawing from heroin and flailing in bed the night the child died.

But she also told police she wasn't sure how the baby died but could have been smothered while sleeping in bed with them.

Bedford County Coroner Rusty Styer ruled the death accidental and listed asphyxiation as the cause.

Involuntary manslaughter, a "reckless or grossly negligent" killing, is a second-degree felony in Pennsylvania when the case involves a child under the age of 12, according to the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.

The couple also are accused of recklessly endangering another person, endangering the welfare of a child, drug possession, falsifying information and tampering with evidence — the latter charge related to the attempt to buy chemicals to mask their drug use.

Both were lodged in Bedford County Jail after failing to post bond.

They are awaiting a preliminary hearing before Judge Cyril Bingham, which has not yet been set, online court records show.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.