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Parents arrested after month-old daughter dies in Ashland motel

Posted at 11:05 AM, May 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-21 19:29:37-04

ASHLAND, Va. -- The mother and father of a one-month-old infant were arrested this week, seven months after their daughter died at an Ashland motel. Sarah Newton, 22, of Partlow, and Gerald Luna, 23, of Green Cove Springs, Florida were charged with felony child neglect after an investigation by Ashland Police.

Ashland Police were initially called to the Shady Grove North Washington Highway motel on October 21, 2014, at about 1 a.m., after someone reported the baby as "unresponsive."

shadymotel -- Trayer,

Motel resident Curtis Trayer points to the unit where the couple lived.

"The child was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead," Ashland Police spokesman officer Chip Watts said. "After an extensive investigation, warrants for felony child neglect were obtained."

Curtis Trayer, who lives at the motel, said he remembered the night the infant was taken to the hospital.

"Well I woke up cause I seen the police lights flashing, and when I came out the door, she was crying, they were carrying the baby to the rescue squad,” Trayer said.

Curtis Trayer

Curtis Trayer

Trayer, who thinks the couple had been living at the motel for about a month, saw no warnings signs.

"They were always holding it and everything,” Trayer said. “Wouldn't even let nobody touch the baby. They [were] afraid the baby might get sick or something."


Shady Grove Motel along Route 1 in Ashland.

Detectives continued to investigate the case and seven months later were ready to file charges.

"It was a complicated case, involving evidence as well as statements and just the amount of time to put everything together to ensure, that we were able to ascertain all the facts,” Watts said.

Newton, who was arrested in Ashland, was being held at Pamunkey Regional Jail. Luna, who was arrested in Stafford, is being held at Rappahannock Regional Jail. Both are being held without bond.

Newton was given a court appointed attorney Wednesday and is due back in court July 2. Luna will be arraigned Friday.

Additional charges are expected to be filed in this case.

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