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Newton man charged in death of Derby toddler

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, at 7:46 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, at 10:58 p.m.


Correction: Earlier versions of this story listed an incorrect date for charges being filed against Jason M. Bugner. The toddler’s age also was incorrect in earlier versions.

Prosecutors on Thursday charged a 21-year-old man with involuntary manslaughter in the 2012 death of a Derby toddler.

Jason M. Bugner, of Newton, is accused in a Sedgwick County District Court complaint of “unlawfully and recklessly” killing Farrah E. Pendland on Aug. 30, 2012. She was 18 months old at the time.

“She made everybody smile,” Stacie Dickey, Farrah’s grandmother, said amid tears. “ ... She just had a way into everybody’s heart.”

She added: “We’re glad that there are finally charges in the case.”

Farrah died after she was in the care of her mother’s boyfriend the morning of Aug. 30, according to the girl’s autopsy report. The boyfriend – who Farrah’s great-grandmother confirmed Thursday was Bugner – reportedly laid the girl down for a nap at home, 400 S. Woodlawn in Derby, when a friend arrived around 11 a.m. that day, the document says.

When he checked on Farrah a short time later, the report continues, he said he found the girl lying face-up and unresponsive.

The toddler was pronounced dead early that afternoon after she was taken to Wesley Medical Center by emergency medical services.

A Sedgwick County coroner was unable to determine Farrah’s cause and manner of death during the autopsy but called the number of blunt-force injuries on the toddler’s body “worrisome” in her autopsy report.

“Injuries to the mouth such as those observed in this case are often associated with non-accidental trauma,” the coroner wrote.

“In addition, the injuries of the neck and … hemorrhages of the right (eye) … may be indicative of an asphyxial death.”

In addition to those injuries, the coroner noted bruises to Farrah’s face, neck, scalp, left shoulder and extremities. Her autopsy report also said the toddler had suffered from mild bronchitis and heart inflammation.

Bugner was booked into Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday, jail records show. He is being held on $100,000 bond.

Asked Thursday about the arrest, the Derby Police Department said only that the case involved a small child and referred media calls to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the case.

At his first appearance in court Thursday, Bugner stood silently in an orange jail jumpsuit as Judge Joe Kisner summarized the complaint filed against him. He glanced down at times, speaking a quick “yes” when asked his name and whether he understood the charge.

Bugner is due back in court Feb. 27 for a preliminary hearing.

The charges come two days before Farrah’s birthday. She would have turned 3 on Saturday.

“It’s bittersweet that she won’t be here to celebrate with us,” Dickey said. “We all miss her so much.”

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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