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Woman helped boyfriend with horrific Christmas Eve crime that left 6-year-old dead

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Ashley Cole and James Dearman, Sarasota County Jail booking photos

SARASOTA, Fla. – A woman is accused of helping her boyfriend with a horrific Christmas Eve crime that left the man’s 6-year-old son dead.

Detectives say James “Rick” Dearman, 31, was on the couch playing video games when he used his body weight to smother his son, James, WFLA reports.

Authorities were called to the home around 10 p.m., and the boy was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

When detectives questioned Dearman’s live-in girlfriend, 22-year-old Ashley Cole, about the boy’s death, she told police that the boy was told to go to bed, but that he refused.

As punishment, Cole says the boy was supposed to put his nose on the wall, but that it was not working.

That is when Cole allegedly asked Dearman if they could punish the boy by “squishing” him and Dearman agreed, WFLA reports.

The boy was forced to lie on the couch with his face against the rear cushions.

Dearman then used his body weight to restrict the boy’s breathing, an arrest affidavit states.

The boy was screaming that he couldn’t breathe, but Dearman and Cole ignored the boy’s pleas.

“His son screamed that he couldn’t breathe and begged to use the bathroom, eventually urinating on the couch and becoming unconscious,” according to a statement from the sheriff’s office released at the time of Dearman’s arrest last week.

The couple then went to the garage to smoke a cigarette and when they returned they saw the boy was not breathing.

That is when they called 911.

The dead child’s 7-year-old sibling reportedly witnessed the entire incident.

Dearman was arrested last week.  He is charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Cole was arrested Monday, Jan. 4.  She is charged with one count of principal to aggravated manslaughter of a child.


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