FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — The special prosecutor in the case involving the death of an 8-year-old Fayette County girl says he’ll push for the maximum prison time for the girl’s father and two other adults at their upcoming sentencing.
Marty Browning Jr.; his wife, Julie Titchenell Browning; and her sister, Sherie Titchenell were all convicted Monday by a Fayette County jury on charges of child neglect resulting in death. The jury found their lack of action contributed to the December 2019 death of Raylee Browning, Marty Browning’s biological daughter.
Special Prosecutor Brian Parsons said child neglect resulting in death carries a 3 to 15 year prison term and he plans to ask the court for the most time possible.
“It’s difficult to consider leniency when there’s no acceptance of responsibility,” Parsons told MetroNews Tuesday. “My guess would be that the state will argue the position of the maximum penalty here.”
Sentencing for all three is scheduled for Aug. 8.
Browning died the day of Christmas in 2019. The cause of death was sepsis caused by a bacterial pneumonia infection.
The jury agreed with the prosecution that the defendants should have sought medical care for Raylee when she became ill. The defense argued their clients had to make a quick decision and made the wrong decision but it wasn’t criminal. Parsons said the three didn’t want to take Raylee for treatment because they knew there would be more questions.
“There was a reluctance at that time to take the child to the doctor. I think there were going to be questions raised,” he said. “This was a child that had dropped in weight from the 60th percentile since the last time she was in school to the fifth percentile.”
The jury found the three defendants not guilty on the more serious felony charge of child abuse resulting in death. Parsons said the jury ultimately settled on a verdict that the evidence supported.
“The abuse that we alleged was deprivation of food and water and doesn’t fit easily in the box of physical abuse and I think it’s perfectly understandable the jury made a distinguishment between physical abuse charging death and then not taking the child to the doctor which essentially is the neglect that caused her death,” Parsons said.
The week-long trial included testimony about CPS referrals that did not result in action. Defense attorneys said it was proof there was no abuse in the home. Parsons said it points to a lack of communication in the DHHR. Parsons said the case also shines a light on what can happen when children are taken out of public schools.
“The teachers in Nicholas County were of the opinion that when (Raylee) was removed from public school and home schooled that that would lead to her death. That was prophetic and true,” Parsons said.