3 Neshoba countians charged in death of infant in New Orleans

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A Neshoba County couple who confessed to smoking meth in a New Orleans casino hotel room over the weekend is in custody following the drowning death of their 18-month-old son. 

Shelbie Lynn Pinson, 22, was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and cruelty to a juvenile. She faces a bond of $32,500. 

Billy D. Withers, 27, and James D. Watkins, 20, have also been charged with cruelty to a juvenile. Withers faces a bond of $7,500 and Watkins faces a $5,000 bond.

Pinson and Withers are the parents of the dead child and Watkins is a relative, officials said.

As of press time, no one had been booked in the death of the child, although the authorities in New Orleans told The Times-Picayune charges could be filed once the manner of death is established.

The 18-month-old boy was found unresponsive in a 12th-floor room at Harrah’s around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.

His three-year-old brother was found to have injuries reported to be scratches and bruises.

The three adults said they were not aware of any bruises on the three-year-old, but Pinson and Watkins did confess to smoking methamphetamines in the bathroom. 

Neshoba County Sheriff Eric Clark said that he had been contacted by Child Protective Services in connection to the matter. 

He said the cause of death is believed to be drowning. Clark said he provided them with background information on the accused. 

Clark said that he did not know if any of the three currently lived locally but all involved are from Neshoba County or have lived here in recent years and have records here.

Cruelty to a juvenile in Lousiania is defined as any “intentional or criminally negligent mistreatment or neglect” inflicted upon a minor by an adult.

There is no mandatory minimum punishment but, if convicted, adult offenders can face up to 20 years in prison if the child is younger than 8 years old.

Records show all have had local run-ins with the law. Pinson was brought in on burglary charges in August of 2018 and January of 2019. 

Withers was charged in June of 2018 when he was 24 with five counts of burglary and misdemeanor false pretense in what then-Sheriff Tommy Waddell reported as a string of burglaries throughout the county. 

Withers has other crime report and jail record appearances going back at least a star as 2011.

Watkins was brought in in April of last year when he was 19 years old for making threatening or harassing phone calls.


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