WILLIAMSON — All eyes were on two defendants in Mingo County Circuit Court Monday morning that followed an indictment that has shocked the residents of the Tug Valley area due to the alleged victim being a young man who had captured the hearts of Mingo County prior to his death in 2012.
Brandi J. and Scott J. Baisden, of Merrimac, were each indicted by the April Grand Jury on a single count of child neglect resulting in death, after an investigation was opened in the death of their handicapped son, Zachary, who suffered from muscular dystrophy. The youngster, who attended Riverside Elementary, passed away on May 11 of last year at the Williamson Memorial Hospital following what had been deemed as complications of pneumonia. Information from an unnamed source led Mingo County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Joe Smith to delve deeper into the case, including a request for toxicology reports from the autopsy of the deceased. After receiving the results, the information was provided to the Prosecutor’s office and was then presented to the grand jury, who returned a true bill (felony indictment) against the couple.
The autopsy results are said to have concluded that Zachary death was caused by pneumonia/complicated respiratory insufficiency. It also speaks about the presence of Alprazolam (Zanax) and over the counter Chlorpheniramine, which is an antihistamine (inappropriate administration of an over the counter cold medication).
Both defendants entered pleas of not guilty during their arraignment hearings before Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, who set their bonds at $50,000 each. Attorney Josh Ferrell represented the Baisdens’ during the arraignment process and will continue to serve as legal counsel for Brandi, and Attorney Jeff Simpkins will represent Scott in the future. The couple will be required to remain on home confinement with Scott also ordered to participate in the Judge’s Work Program. They are further ordered to have no contact with anyone under the age of 18, although they are allowed to have limited and supervised visitation with their juvenile daughter who is currently placed in the care of a grandparent.
A family member of Scott’s, who requested his name not be disclosed, remarked that when Zachary was born, his life expectancy was 1-3 years, and said that the youngster living beyond that estimate should send a clear statement that he had parents who provided and cared for his needs and did what was best for him. He further commented that he firmly believes that Scott and Brandi would never have done anything intentional to harm their son, and were unaware that he had pneumonia.
Williamson Fire Department (WFD) Lt. Stephen Casey, who serves as President of the Firefighter’s Union Local 968, spoke with the Daily News about the close relationship the WFD had established with Zachary through the years, enjoying each and every moment they spent together raising funding for the American Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“He was a great kid,” said Casey. “Full of laughter and smiles, he never let his medical condition and physical handicap take away his joy. He sat in his wheelchair for the past 4 years with us on Boot Day, as we strived to raise money to help find a cure for the disease that prevented him from standing or walking. We all loved him, there’s no other way to word it. The news that extenuating circumstances may have attributed to his death and angered me…it’s left me unable to wrap my mind around the evidence that’s been presented.”
“As a father of a son with another little boy on the way, I can’t begin to rationalize this. If the allegations are true, then I firmly believe the parents should be punished to the fullest extent the law allows. If they’re not guilty of these charges, then I hope evidence to prove otherwise surfaces. But – if what I’m hearing about the autopsy results is true, then I don’t believe there’s much room for doubt. Time will tell.”
A trial date for the Baisdens’ has been set for June 11th, although that date may change as the adte draws near. Attorney Josh Ferrell stated during the arraignment hearings that this case would require a good amount of time to prepare for trial, due to the extent of the discovery material.
Bond conditions were met for both husband and wife following the hearing, and they were released from custody after being placed on home confinement. Additional information will be published as it becomes available.