Tragic Infant Death Linked to Substance Use; Mother Faces Charges in Kent County

February 1st, 2024 Legal & Crime
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In a distressing incident in Kent County, a 2-month-old infant tragically lost his life, leading to serious charges against his mother. Jennifer Louise Mast, 39, was arraigned on charges of involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse on January 31st at the 63rd District Court in Kent County.

This case, which has garnered significant attention, stems from a Kent County Sheriff's Office investigation in 2023. The critical events unfolded in the early hours of August 25th, when sheriff's deputies received an emergency call about an unresponsive infant at a residence in Solon Township.

Upon arriving at the scene around 6:38 a.m., deputies immediately noticed a strong odor of burnt marijuana within the house. Additionally, visible marijuana paraphernalia and an empty vodka bottle on the dining table were reported, as detailed in an affidavit of probable cause for complaints.

During the on-scene investigation, detectives interviewed Mast. She disclosed consuming alcohol, including two mixed vodka drinks and a shot, and admitted to smoking marijuana shortly before retiring to bed. At that time, Mast stated, the baby was already asleep in his bouncy seat.

The sequence of events as recounted by Mast indicates that she attended to the baby later in the night, feeding and changing him, before laying him in bed with her. The next morning, the baby's father, who was also in the home, woke up Mast as he prepared for work. It was then that Mast discovered the baby was unresponsive. Despite immediate CPR attempts by Mast and subsequent emergency response efforts, the baby could not be revived.

The Kent County Medical Examiner's Office determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation by suffocation.

Following these tragic events, Mast is scheduled for further court appearances, including a probable cause conference on February 14th and a preliminary examination on February 21st. She has been released on bond as of the afternoon of January 31st.

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