A 9-year-old Pensacola child died Saturday after her 325-pound cousin allegedly sat on her as punishment for misbehavior, according to an Escambia County Sheriff's Office report.
Veronica Green Posey, 64, was charged with homicide and cruelty toward a child after paramedics responded to a cardiac arrest call at 1:35 p.m. Saturday in the 300 block of Bryant Road. Upon arrival, the victim, Dericka Lindsay, was found to be unresponsive and was transported to Baptist Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Based on the arrest report, Posey told the responding deputy she sat on Dericka as a discipline "for being out of control." During the course of the punishment, the report states Dericka told the adults she could not breathe. After standing up and discovering the child was unresponsive, Posey called 911 and started CPR.
The report later states Posey informed the deputy she weighed about 325 pounds.
Additionally, Grace Joan Smith, 69, and James Edmund Smith, 62, were arrested and charged with child neglect for failing to report the abuse. Grace Smith has also been charged with cruelty toward a child. The report named the Smiths as the parents of Dericka and Posey as the Smiths' niece.
According to Grace Smith's arrest report, she called Posey to her house for assistance with disciplining Dericka. Grace Smith told the deputy Posey struck Dericka with a ruler and a metal pipe, before Dericka ran to an armchair.
In James Smith's arrest report, he told the deputy Posey sat on Dericka in the armchair for an estimated 10 minutes before Dericka complained of not being able to breathe. He told the deputy Posey continued to sit on the child for another two minutes before standing up and finding the child unresponsive.
In an emailed statement to the News Journal, Mike Carroll, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, said the family had a previous interaction with the state's child welfare system.
"Dericka’s death is appalling and DCF will continue coordinating with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to hold anyone responsible for her death accountable," Carroll's statement read. "As the family has a prior interaction with the child welfare system, a thorough quality assurance review will be conducted to review all prior interactions this family has had with the child welfare system."
According to Escambia County's jail records, Posey's bond was set at $125,000, and she has been released. Grace Smith's bond was set at $75,000, and James Smith's bond was set at $50,000. As of 3 p.m. Monday, jail records showed both were still in jail.
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