LINCOLNTON A judge has dismissed two counts of involuntary manslaughter against a Stanley man charged in the deaths of his 6-year-old daughter and 7-year-old nephew in an April wall collapse.
After a hearing Thursday at the Lincoln County Courthouse, Superior Court Judge Ali Paksoy dismissed charges against Jordan Keely Arwood after finding no probable cause.
Arwood had been charged in September after a lengthy investigation. Lincoln County sheriff’s detectives determined that Arwood showed culpable negligence in the deaths of James Levi Caldwell, 7, and Chloe Jade Arwood, 6, authorities said.
On April 7, the children were playing in a large dirt pit while Jordan Arwood was working at the site, using a backhoe to dig and move dirt, authorities said.
One wall of the pit collapsed, trapping the children underneath. It took rescuers more than 12 hours to locate the bodies of the children.
Authorities said Lincoln County had issued no building permits to Arwood.
An investigator told the Observer in August that building the case would be challenging because the Sheriff’s Office had to show culpable, or criminal, negligence.
Defense attorney Brad Smith said Friday that Arwood’s behavior didn’t rise to that level.
“This was a freak accident, a tragic accident” Smith said. “But it wasn’t a criminal act.”
He said two other adults, including Arwood’s mother, were watching the children at the time of the incident and that the pit Arwood was digging had wooden buttresses for support.
“If going to jail would bring the kids back, he’d do it,” Smith said. “This decision allows him and the other family members to get back to the grieving process. It’s been difficult for them to start any closure with this pending. Nobody’s more upset over the deaths than they are.”
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less