Crime & Courts

Suspended sentence and probation given Columbia woman who admitted starving infant son

Ashley Cheatham
Ashley Cheatham

A 24 year-old Columbia woman, the mother of three, was given a suspended sentence and three years probation after admitting that she starved her infant son in 2014 even though she had vouchers for free infant formula.

The state had urged the judge to send Ashley Cheatham to jail. She could have faced 10 years in prison for inflicting great bodily injury upon a child and unlawful conduct toward a child, 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson said in a news release Friday night.

Cheatham was arrested two days after bringing her 2 1 / 2 month old son to the the Palmetto Health Richland hospital emergency room in July 2014 because he was having seizures. The child, doctors found, had life-threateningly low sodium and glucose levels after being fed only water for about a week.

In his news release, Johnson suggests that while her baby starved, Cheatham was stuffing herself on junk food, eating “oodles and noodles, onion rings, chicken tenders, hotdogs, bologna sandwiches, corn, rice, okra, tomato’s, chicken tenders smothered in gravy, bake (sic) chicken, fry (sic) chicken, and grits and bacon.”

Cheatham had never redeemed the vouchers for infant formula she got from the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program, Johnson said. In addition, the state Department of Social Services earlier had put her on probation and removed two older children from her care.

Ashley Cheatham was sentenced to eight months (time already served) and three years probation by Judge Clifton Newman. A 10-year prison sentence was suspended.