Crime

Coast couple arrested after 1-year-old dies, two children show signs of abuse, sheriff says

Thomas Cannette, left, and Cassandra Lopresto
Thomas Cannette, left, and Cassandra Lopresto

It appeared to be a case of child neglect after deputies found a 1-year-old child unresponsive, trapped behind a sofa at a rural home with a Biloxi address.

The toddler had been unsupervised for an unknown period of time on Dec. 3 and was found behind a sofa in a couple’s home on Lamey Bridge Road, Sheriff Troy Peterson said Tuesday.

An emergency crew from American Medical Response took the child to Merit Health hospital, where he or she died, Peterson said.

Investigators noticed “deplorable conditions” in the house while investigating and notified the Mississippi State Department of Health that two other children live in the home, Peterson said.

Thomas Cannette and Cassandra Lopresto, both age 27, face three counts of felony child abuse.

Initially they were arrested on three counts of felony child neglect.

After being taken to a hospital, investigators saw “obvious signs of abuse and neglect on the other two children,” Peterson said in a news release.

Investigators also found drug paraphernalia in the home on the 16000 block of Lamey Bridge, north of Mississippi 67, after obtaining a search warrant, resulting in misdemeanor drug charges.

On Dec. 6, MDHS notified investigators that medical examinations concluded both the children had injuries from child abuse, Peterson said.

The State Medical Examiner’s Office the next day confirmed obvious signs of abuse in the toddler during an autopsy, he said.

The toddler’s cause of death was ruled as asphyxiation after being trapped behind the sofa, Peterson said.

Investigators then changed the couple’s charges to felony child abuse, he said.

Previous charges

Cannette had been arrested June 26, 2017, in Jackson County on two counts of misdemeanor child neglect after smoking marijuana in front of children, said Sheriff Mike Ezell’s office. He was released two days later per Justice Court.

Cannette has a long list of arrests in the county dating back to 2009, including grand larceny, burglary, drug charges and probation violations.

The couple is being held on felony bonds of $750,000 each pending further investigation.

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