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Newport News couple charged in baby’s death; police say boy fell off bed while they were out

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A mother and her boyfriend have been charged in the accidental death of an 11-month-old baby in their Newport News home earlier this month.

Court documents say Porshea Tanika Evans walked into Riverside Regional Medical Center on the morning of Sept. 4 holding her “unconscious and unresponsive” child.

Emergency room doctors couldn’t revive the boy, and he was pronounced dead 35 minutes later.

Evans, 33, and her boyfriend, Dequan Foreman, 31, are now charged with felony child neglect in the death of the child who would have had his first birthday Friday.

Police investigators say the baby — identified in court documents by his initials “Z.E.H.” — fell off a bed and hit his head on the floor. The accident took place, police say, when the couple left the boy and his 4-year-old sister unattended for about an hour.

The couple apparently didn’t initially realize the extent of the child’s injury, and more than 14 hours passed before he was taken to the hospital.

The arrest warrant affidavits, filed in Newport News Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, outline the events of that day.

The documents say Evans, Foreman and the two children went to a friend’s house on the afternoon of Sept. 3, a Saturday, “to celebrate the weekend.”

The couple drank heavily while at the party, the warrants say. Foreman told detectives he drank “too much,” and Evans said she drank “a lot.” Evans also told police that she and Foreman had smoked marijuana earlier that day.

They left the party before 7 p.m., returning to their apartment on Brighton Lane, off Harpersville Road. Evans brought the children inside and put them down in a bedroom.

The couple then left and went to Hoss’ Deli — an eatery just around the corner — to pick up food. But Evans got into a minor car accident on the way home, delaying the couple’s return.

While police were at the couple’s home investigating the accident, Foreman said he went inside to check on the kids. (He later estimated that was just under an hour after they had left the home).

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Foreman, who was not the baby’s father, said he found the 11-month-old on the floor and took him outside while Evans spoke with police about the accident. He said he noticed the boy snoring at the time. At about 9:30 p.m., Foreman said, he put the boy down for the night in a portable crib.

When he woke up between 4 to 6 a.m., he noticed the baby “was in the exact same position he’d been placed in” earlier, the warrants say. He woke Evans, who checked on the boy and noticed his skin was cold to the touch.

The warrants don’t say if the couple checked on the baby’s breathing at that time. But Evans placed a blanket on the boy and both she and Foreman went back to bed.

Foreman woke up after 9 a.m. and he again found the baby “in the same position.” This time, however, he said the boy wasn’t breathing and had no discernible pulse. Foreman woke up Evans, who took the baby to the emergency room at about 9:45 a.m.

Doctors told police the baby had “significant swelling to the left side of his head,” but “no other injuries consistent with abuse.” The boy was pronounced dead at 10:22 a.m.

Foreman and Evans told detectives the boy’s 4-year-old sister had told them her brother had fallen from the bed.

“It appears the only time (the baby) was able to fall off the bed was when he and (the sister) were left in the residence unattended,” said a criminal complaint by Detective C.A. Ruhlen.

Evans and Foreman were charged with felony child neglect in the boy’s death. They’re accused of allowing “serious injury to the life or health of a child” by a willful act, omission or refusal to provide the necessary care.

They also face a second child neglect charge for leaving the sister home alone. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of both counts.

Evans is out on a $7,000 bond pending trial, records show. Foreman, who has a past criminal record, is being held without bond but has appealed that decision, with a new bond hearing slated for Thursday in Circuit Court.

Attorneys for Evans and Foreman — Timothy Clancy and Paul Hubert respectively — both declined to comment on the pending case.

In the meantime, the father of both children asked for custody of the 4-year-old girl and that Evans have no contact with her. He asserted in protective order paperwork that Evans and Foreman “came home intoxicated and fell asleep” before the boy’s fall from the bed.

A hearing on the protective order is slated for Nov. 9.

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