Three arrested for negligence in hanging death of child

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Young Esau Jamison was found hanging from a belt in a bedroom closet by the grandfather, who had gone into the room where the child was discovered to smoke crack cocaine.

TOM McLAUGHLIN @TomMnwfdn

Three adults who lived in the filthy home on Farmer’s Street in Crestview where 9-year-old Esau Jamison died last Nov. 10 have been charged with six counts of felony child neglect.

Charges against Esau’s mother, Jentry Smith, 37, her husband Robert Earl Smith, 56, and Esau’s grandfather, John E. Jamison, 67, were filed by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office after “extensive consultation” with the State Attorney’s Office, OCSO spokeswoman Michele Nicholson said.

Young Esau was found hanging from a belt in a bedroom closet by the grandfather, who had gone into the room where the child was discovered to smoke crack cocaine, according to arrest reports. One end of the belt was wrapped around the victim’s neck and the other around the clothes bar in the closet.

The child was believed to have been hanging for about an hour when authorities arrived on scene. He would later be pronounced dead at North Okaloosa Medical Center.

The First Judicial Circuit Medical Examiner’s Office has determined the death to be accidental, a Sheriff’s Office news release said.

“There was no evidence of foul play and nothing to show it was an intentional act of suicide,” Nicholson said. “We’ll probably never know for sure.”

Investigators found a double barrel shotgun, ammunition and a rock of crack cocaine in the room where Esau’s body was discovered. Esau was one of six children between 3 and 14 years old who shared the home with the three adults.

“Both the ammunition and crack cocaine were within easy reach of the children within the residence,” the reports said.

In addition to the felony neglect charges, John E. Jamison was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, the news release said.

The reports describe living conditions in the home as deplorable. The front yard was littered with trash and beer cans, the inside of the home smelled “of urine and rotting trash” and the kitchen was full of cockroaches — living and dead.

One entire bedroom in the residence that housed nine was described as “uninhabitable” because clothing was piled into it up to 3-feet high.

The arrest reports say the family had been “in near constant contact” with the Florida Department of Children and Families since 2012. DCF case workers had investigated the family seven times prior to Esau’s death, including one incident in which a 4-year-old suffered a fractured skull, according to the news release.

Another incident involved a report that Jentry Smith had beaten her children with an object that left splinters in their skin, the reports said.

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