BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Kathleen Edwards — the widow of Gregory Edwards — was arrested on Wednesday in Volusia County, following the death of her 18-month-old son last July.
The state attorney’s office for Brevard and Seminole counties announced the arrest in a news release.
Kathleen Edwards and her mother called 911 after finding the toddler in the water, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
According to prosecutors, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office conducted a months-long investigation into the child’s death. The state attorney’s office conducted an additional investigation before making the decision to prosecute.
“The death of a child is a devastating event and carries with it an emotional burden unlike any other,” State Attorney Phil Archer said in a statement. “As a society, we understand that sense of loss, but we also charge law enforcement with the duty to determine if any abuse or neglect contributed to the death.”
The 35-year-old voluntarily surrendered to deputies in Volusia County after a warrant was issued for her arrest. She faces a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child.
Kathleen Edwards was previously represented by attorney Benjamin Crump. News 6 spoke to her lawyer, Mark Eiglarsh, whose services she is retaining in this case.
“Prosecutors are committing a miscarriage of justice by charging her criminally. She is 100% innocent and the charge is baseless,” he said. “At the time of this tragedy, Kathleen Edwards was not the caretaker of her children. Her mother assumed full responsibility for their care. Prosecutors refusal to even speak to my client’s mother prior to forcing my client to jail is beyond troubling.”
Eiglarsh said in the same statement that Edwards surrendered to the Volusia County Jail rather than Brevard to avoid entering the jail she believes is responsible for the death of her husband.
“The decision to prosecute is always difficult, but the evidence in this case overwhelmingly revealed that this tragedy was entirely preventable,” Archer said. “The identified circumstances that contributed to Gregory’s death, also demanded that we seek court ordered intervention on behalf of Ms. Edwards, and her surviving minor daughter.”
Kathleen Edwards’ husband, Gregory Edwards, died in 2018 while in custody at the Brevard County Jail Complex. He was arrested a day earlier by West Melbourne police outside a retail store for allegedly assaulting a charity worker. Kathleen Edwards told arresting officers her husband was suffering from PTSD.
The man, a combat veteran, later got into a confrontation with deputies while at the Brevard County Jail. He was later found unresponsive in a holding cell and died at a local hospital the next day, records show. His death was ruled accidental as a result of excited delirium.
In July 2019, the state attorney’s office determined that the deputies involved in the confrontation acted within reason.
The man’s family filed a civil suit in December 2020 against the West Melbourne police officers who arrested Gregory Edwards and the City of West Melbourne seeking punitive damages for his death.