Upshur County couple arrested on child neglect charges

Crime
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An Upshur County couple has been arrested following a traffic stop after deputies said they made their two young children get out of their car seats and sit on the floor of their vehicle so their two friends could sit in the back seat.

On Monday, April 29 Upshur County Sheriff’s Deputies conducted a traffic stop in French Creek on a vehicle for a defective exhaust and brake light. Upon approaching the vehicle, deputies said they observed four adults inside the vehicle and an infant child in a car seat between the two passengers.

Deputies said they learned the driver, Bradley Bennett, 32, of Adrian had a suspended driver’s license. Bennett also told deputies that there was a marijuana smoking device inside the vehicle and that he had smoked marijuana earlier that day.

Upon searching the vehicle, deputies observed a two-year-old boy and a four-year-old boy wedged in the floorboard of the vehicle between the legs of Laura Smith, 30, of Adrian. Bennett and Smith are the parents of both children, according to deputies.

Smith told deputies that the children had been placed in car seats until she and Bennett stopped to pick up two adult male friends who were walking south on Route 20. Smith then stated that at that time the children were taken from the car seats and placed on the floor of the vehicle, so the two men could have a seat in the vehicle. 

Deputies then removed all occupants from the vehicle and conducted a search. During the search, deputies said they located a marijuana smoking device and a methamphetamine smoking device. Deputies said they observed and photographed the rear seat where the children were placed. 

Both children were placed on top of dirty trash, jumper cables, beer cans and other miscellaneous refuse, according to deputies. It was determined that Bennett and Smith intentionally and recklessly placed the safety and health of their children in danger of serious bodily injury, deputies said.

Bennett and Smith have each been charged with two counts of gross child neglect creating risk of injury, according to court documents. Both Bennett and Smith are currently being held at Tygart Valley Regional Jail.

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