The mother a 14-year-old girl in Arkansas faces a capital murder case after state investigators found the teen was the victim of a homicide by compressional asphyxiation.
Shelette Strong is accused of inflicting homicidal violence against daughter Ciana Roberts in a Tucker residence on Feb. 27, leading to the girl’s death four days later.
“Deputies were dispatched to the 200 block of Beale Street in Tucker, Arkansas in regards to an unresponsive fourteen-year-old female. The child was identified as Ciana Roberts. Roberts was transported to Jefferson Regional Medical Center (JRMC) by Emergency Ambulance Services Inc. (EASI),” the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said. “Roberts was later airlifted by helicopter to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.”
After Ciana Roberts was pronounced dead by the Pulaski County Coroner’s Office on the first day of March, the Arkansas State Crime Lab performed an autopsy which led to the Aug. 15 murder charge against the 30-year-old mother.
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“The Arkansas State Crime Lab reported that the cause of death was compressional asphyxia and the manner of death was homicide,” the sheriff’s office said.
Compression asphyxia was the cause of death of those who lost their lives in November 2021 at the Astroworld Festival in Texas. Dr. George W. Williams of UT Health Houston explained at the time how compression asphyxia happens.
“When we have compression asphyxiation, you’re looking at so much force – hundreds of pounds of force outside the chest — to where there’s force outside the chest emptying the chest,” the doctor told KHOU.
The capital murder case is now in the hands of the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Jefferson County Jail records reviewed by Law&Crime show that Strong was booked into the W.C. “Dub” Brassell Detention Center at 3:56 p.m. on Wednesday. Authorities said the suspect surrendered.
Arkansas law says that a defendant commits capital murder when, “Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, the person knowingly causes the death of a person fourteen (14) years of age or younger at the time the murder was committed if the defendant was eighteen (18) years of age or older at the time the murder was committed.” The offense is punishable by death or life in prison without parole.
An obituary for Ciana Roberts said she left “[l]oving memories” to her parents, Christopher Roberts and Shelette Strong. Ciana is also survived by seven siblings.
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