August 28, 2014

Elyria
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Family wants answers in Sheffield Twp. tot’s death

Now that an autopsy has determined that a Sheffield Township toddler’s death was a homicide, family members want justice and closure.

Zyairre

Zyairre DaShaun Pasenow was laid to rest three days before his second birthday, but his great-grandmother, Ann Hydock of Lorain, said he suffered long before he died. He spent the last four months of his young life in hospitals trying to heal from horrific injuries, she said.

“The doctors said the kind of injuries he had were like someone was driving in a car going 35 mph and threw him out a window,” she said.

Zyairre was first taken to Community Health Partners in early April when his mother’s boyfriend, 28-year-old Jamal D. Lee, called an ambulance saying that the child was ill. Lee often watched Zyairre while his mother, 20-year-old Brittaney S. Pasenow, worked, but he was not his father, said sheriff’s Capt. Richard Resendez.

Resendez would not discuss who the suspects are in the case. But he said both Lee and Pasenow have been questioned by investigators.

Pasenow declined to comment Thursday.

In the months preceding his death, Zyairre was treated at CHP and at a private nursing facility before he was transferred to Rainbow

Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. He had a fractured skull, nine broken ribs, and bruises and burn marks on his body, his great-grandmother said.

Pasenow stayed by her comatose son’s side until he died early Aug. 1, she said.

“We want an ending to this,” Hydock said. “It’s like we’re in limbo, and we want some closure to the whole thing. This was a sweet child who didn’t deserve what happened to him.”

Cuyahoga County Coroner Frank Miller ruled Wednesday that Zyairre died from a fungal infection resulting from severe blunt force injuries. However, more than a month after his death, no one has been charged with the crime.
Resendez said the case remains under investigation. 

Lee was indicted in April on unrelated charges of possession of drugs, unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance and drug paraphernalia following a search of Pasenow’s Berkshire Drive apartment. The case is pending in Common Pleas Court.

Resendez said the charges stem from the discovery of a sawed-off shotgun and cocaine found at the apartment. Lee later admitted to deputies that the items belonged to him, Resendez said.

Hydock said her granddaughter is carrying Lee’s baby and they have been involved for about a year.

Patti-Jo Burtnett, spokeswoman for Lorain County Children Services, said she could not comment on what, if any, involvement the agency is having with this new pregnancy. Children Services was initially contacted by abuse specialists and doctors at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital who suspected — while Zyairre was still alive — that his injuries were consistent with child abuse. Children Services subsequently contacted the sheriff’s office.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.