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Parents Charged With Murder In Baby's Starvation Death

Last updated on Thursday, February 16, 2012

(RICHMOND) - Murder charges have been filed against the parents of a 4-month-old Richmond boy who died after being severely malnourished, police said.

Amy Hockett, 21, and Joseph Pierson, 24, were arrested Monday on one count each of neglect of a dependent.

Their son, Khaiden Hockett, was pronounced dead Feb. 5 at the couple's Richmond residence after authorities responded to a call that a baby wasn't breathing.

Autopsy results released Wednesday classified the cause of death as dehydration due to starvation.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the baby appeared to be "extremely malnourished, with his skin sagging from the body and having a leather-type look which gave the impression that he was severely dehydrated."

Doctors said the baby, who weighed 8 pounds 7 ounces at birth, would typically weigh twice that at 4 months. Khaiden weighed 6 pounds 2 ounces at the time of his death, police said.

Amy Hockett told police that she had taken her son to see his pediatrician and had sought treatment for him at the Wayne County Health Clinic several times because he was having trouble keeping formula down.

She told friends and family members that Khaiden was being tested for leukemia, kidney stones and severe acid reflux, police said.

But records show that Khaiden had only been seen once, since his birth, on Oct. 18, and had never been taken to the clinic.

Doctors also found no evidence of congenital disease or natural disease, but said the baby's body was covered with open sores and dirt.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the couple's home was littered with used diapers, trash and piles of clothes. There was no food in the fridge and Khaiden's room had feces smeared on the wall, police said.

Family friend Kelly Padgett defended Hockett and Pierson.

"There was no way they would hurt their baby on purpose. They're good people," Padgett said.

Hockett and Pierson were each formally charged with murder and neglect of a dependent. They remained jailed Tuesday at the Wayne County Jail.

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