TEXARKANA, Ark. — A mother charged with murder in the September 2019 death of her infant daughter has been found competent to proceed following a mental health evaluation.
Crystal Morrow, 25, is accused along with her husband, Dustin Harley, 20, of failing to care for their twin babies, a boy and a girl.
The couple is charged in the Sept. 27, 2019, death of their daughter, 7-month-old Kimberly, and with endangering the welfare of a minor involving Kimberly's twin brother. The boy and three older children living in the home at the time of Kimberly's death are in foster care, according to a probable cause affidavit. Kimberly allegedly died of severe neglect and her brother's dire condition was attributed to the same.
Psychological evaluations were ordered for both Morrow and Harley last year. A report filed in Morrow's case includes a finding that she is fit to proceed to trial. No report has been filed in Harley's case.
Both parents are scheduled to appear in court next month.
When deputies responded to the house in the 3400 block of Miller County 9, they found Kimberly not breathing and her twin in acute distress.
Investigators noted that the day crib the babies shared was placed in a room with piles of laundry. As investigators photographed the children's bed, roaches allegedly crawled on the walls and in the crib.
Morrow claimed she'd given both infants bottles at 5 a.m. that morning and the evening before, but medical professionals noted signs of severe dehydration and malnutrition. The infants' grandfather had come to the house shortly before the emergency call for help was made.
Miller County Coroner Dakota Bloyd noted dried secretions around Kimberly's eyes, nose, mouth and ears; she was wearing a heavily soiled diaper; and she had dirty fingernails.
An autopsy determined Kimberly's body ranked in less than the fifth percentile for her age and gender, that her eyes were sunken, her fontanel was depressed, her muscles were wasting and her ribs were protruding.
According to the affidavit, a doctor at Arkansas Children's Hospital told investigators, "Any caregiver in the home with (the infant boy) and his twin would be expected to recognize the child was scientifically sick and in need of immediate care."
Both Morrow and Harley are free on bonds of $50,000.
If found guilty of second-degree murder, the defendants face six to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000. If found guilty of endangering the welfare of a minor, they face up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell is handling both cases.