Prosecutors say home of child was in state of disarray

Charles and Ashley Gordon were sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty to homicide by child neglect in the death of their nine-month-old in 2010. (Scott Garrand/WCIV)

By Natalie

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - A mother and father accused of starving their baby were sentenced Thursday.

Ashley and Charles Lewis Gordon IV were sentenced by Judge L.C. Nicholson in a Charleston County courtroom. Ashley got nine years, her husband seven after pleading guilty to homicide by child neglect earlier this week.

In court Ashley Gordon cried as she read a statement to the judge, asking for mercy in sentencing.

"I knew things were not right with him. I knew he was small but I truly believed it was nothing as serious as it was," she said.

Prosecutors and investigators say the parents should have taken their child to the doctor when they realized something was wrong with their baby.

Investigators say nine-month-old Andrew Gordon was found unresponsive in his crib on July 5, 2010 and later died at the hospital.

"It's really very sad. So many things could have been done to save the baby, medical care and just holding him in their arms feeding it rather than propping the bottle up," Assistant Solicitor Debbie Herring-Lash said.

Herring-Lash says the parents and the baby's sibling were feeding the child, but not properly.

"The baby was probably getting 8-10 bottles a day. Its just the method of feeding was very often propping the bottle up on a towel while the baby laid in the bed, so the baby was not getting all of the nutrition," she said.

In the crib police say they found dirty diapers and several baby bottles. Prosecutors say the home was in a 'complete state of disarray.'

"It was filthy, trashy and dirty," Herring-Lash said.

Public defender Ashley Pennington says he agrees the parents should have gotten medical attention for their baby, but says there are still many unanswered questions about the child's malnutrition.

"There are things that we know and things we don't know in terms of the problems of getting food into his belly and getting it properly absorbed. You've heard reference to swallowing issues that were potential," Pennington told the judge. "It's dangerous to speculate. It's dangerous to say he wasn't fed when we don't have a precise understanding."

Pennington says Charles Gordon was being treated for PTSD and major depression following his service in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. The judge ordered certain conditions with the parents' sentence. Ashley must take parenting class and mental health counseling if necessary. Charles Gordon was ordered to undergo mental health counseling and treatment. Both were given five years probation.

The couple has two other children. Herring-Lash says their grandparents have custody and most likely will stay with them.