3 set for arraignment in Dewey toddler death case

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - Three Dewey residents arrested following the death of a toddler last February are scheduled for formal arraignment after a judge on Tuesday bound them over for trial.

The decision was made Tuesday, the fourth day of preliminary hearings for Marcus Trinidad Mitchell, 22, charged with first-degree murder involving the death of a child; Ashley Ann Williamson, 23, the toddler girl's mother, charged with two counts of child neglect and one count of enabling child abuse by injury; and Juanchelle Lanyal Fitch, 48, charged with accessory to first-degree murder after the fact and child neglect.

Following further testimony by Danielle Patterson who lived in the same house with the defendants when the death occurred, the court accepted the state's motion to amend Mitchell's charges to include neglect, exposure of a child to drugs and failing to shelter a child or bring a child to treatment.

A charge of enabling child abuse was added to Mitchell's mother's charges as well.

Mitchell and Williams, each held on $500,000 bonds, and Fitch, on a $250,000 bond were arrested March 9 following the results of a joint investigation by Dewey police and the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation into the death of 15-month-old Emma Beth Warmberodt.

Records filed at the Washington County Courthouse indicate the investigation began Feb. 24 when Dewey police and first responders were dispatched to a residence on the 300 block of Cherokee in Dewey due to a call reporting a unresponsive child.

Reportedly, they found Warmberodt dead with bruises to her head and chest as well as blood in her mouth and nose. They also found she may have been dead for some time as her body was already stiffening, said police.

An autopsy report the medical examiner later released on the child indicated she had died "as a result of blunt trauma."

During interviews with police, Mitchell reportedly admitted to having struck Emma on the back due to her choking on cereal and said he saw blood on her face before putting her to bed before going to work, said police.

Both Williamson and Fitch reportedly admitted during later interviews to having seen signs of abuse but having done nothing to stop it.

During Patterson's testimony on Tuesday, she recounted how she saw bruises — including one on the left ear and one on the forehead — appear in the days leading up to the death.

She recalled how on the day she found Emma dead in her crib, Mitchell seemed unusually concerned for Emma and called her that afternoon while she was out and later when she returned home concerning the girl.

Patterson said in the later call she received when she arrived home, after she heard only silence from the room where Emma was said to be sleeping, Mitchell told her to wake Emma as she "had been asleep all day and needed her diaper changed."

She said after receiving the call, she went to the bathroom where she had a vision of seeing Emma lifeless and not breathing in the crib. According to earlier testimony, Patterson later found the toddler as she saw in her vision — dead in the crib.

The three are due to be arraigned on Nov. 7.

Print this article Back to Top