Governor Corbett deserves credit for his handling of the Sandusky case

For more than 15 years, I have dedicated a portion of my professional career to children’s rights and the fight to protect children from abuse. Ten of those years, I spent representing Dauphin County Children & Youth, where I litigated more than 450 child abuse appeals before the Department of Public Welfare.

In this quasi-prosecutorial role, I fought to ensure that those who were identified as perpetrators of child abuse remained on the statewide ChildLine database.

Prosecuting child abuse-related crimes is extraordinarily difficult, often more so than even homicide cases. Most individuals understand the concept of one person killing another — albeit justified or not. To the contrary, it is our society’s human nature to want to disbelieve that one human being can sexually abuse the most innocent members of our community, our children.

Prosecutors must first convince the jury that adults can and do sexually abuse children. Then they must prove to the jury that the individual before them did those heinous acts.

As the Sandusky trial unfolded, I heard many differing opinions on what the verdict might be. There were many who said “Where is the proof that the child was sexually abused by Sandusky?” These statements exemplify the difficulties facing prosecutors in trying these cases and victims have in telling their stories. Rarely is there physical evidence to corroborate the sexual assault of a child.

The “CSI” effect is a factor as the public expects videotapes of the incident to appear, DNA to be left behind or injuries to be caused upon the child victim. This simply is not the real world.

The statements that have been made about Gov. Corbett’s handling of the Sandusky investigation while he was attorney general created unfair confusion about how to best pursue a child abuser who operated behind the veil of charity and prestige for many years.

Two of the Sandusky victims were brought to the attention of law enforcement and child protective agencies. In Centre County, in 1998, the district attorney opted against prosecution. A decade later, CYS officials in Clinton County were notified of complaints by the boy known as Victim No. 8.

But it was only after an anonymous referral in 2009 that the attorney general’s office, under Corbett, did something unique. It assumed jurisdiction in the matter of Sandusky even after county prosecutors passed on the case. Were it not for this rare decision, Sandusky would not have faced justice.

There were significant impediments to the attorney general’s investigation that had to be overcome before formal charges could be filed against Sandusky:

-The mere fact that other prosecutors had information and chose not to charge.
-Element of time of more than a decade passing since the first report.
-Investigating a revered defensive football coach who many contend built
“Linebacker U.”
-Potentially placing a never-ending scar on the face of an outstanding state university and its larger-than-life coach.

Had then-Attorney General Corbett decided not to bring charges, many would have concluded that he was somehow protecting Penn State. On the other hand, should charges have been warranted, as they obviously were, the collateral consequences for one of the nation’s most well-known universities and its winningest coach would undoubtedly bring swift consequences and criticisms.

The trail was cold on some of the cases. One of the victims, seen in a Penn State shower with Sandusky, could not even be located.

The major problem was taking on a larger-than-life football hero who had further enlarged his stature by running a charity for troubled boys. Sandusky enjoyed the aura of Penn State and its legendary coach. Building that sort of case requires time and a wealth of evidence.

While there is rarely physical evidence of child sexual abuse, there are many ways to strengthen a prosecution through corroboration of the child’s story as to where the incident(s) occurred or, as with the Sandusky case, statements of multiple child victims. It is imperative that criminal charges are not lodged prematurely as this might jeopardize the chances for conviction.

The plain fact is that the Sandusky investigation took so long because it was so thorough and, because it was so thorough, Sandusky was convicted of 45 charges and his victims were finally given some measure of closure.

With the investigation continuing, investigators are now likely to find more victims. With Sandusky’s guilt confirmed and his veneer as a surrogate dad to troubled boys stripped away, those who struggled with the confusion and self-loathing that comes with sexual victimhood will no longer see his stature as standing between them and a willingness to tell the truth.

That doesn’t happen overnight.

Without Corbett’s willingness to do the right thing the right way, it wouldn’t have happened at all.

By Jason Kutulakis

Will Sandusky testify at sex abuse trial?

The defense is set to take their turn at the child sexual abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky, but at least one question remains: will Sandusky himself testify?

A wooden chair enclosed in a small box at the Centre County courthouse may hold the weight of the entire trial.

So far, the only time the public has heard Sandusky speak was during an interview with Bob Costas on NBC’s Rock Center. When Costas asked Sandusky if he is completely innocent and falsely accused in every aspect, Sandusky responded, “Well, I could say that I have done some of those things.”

It was an interview with straightforward questions. In turn, Sandusky gave answers with long pauses, which many described as awkward.

Sandusky gave a one-on-one interview with the Washington Post. Then, on a chilly morning outside the Centre County courthouse after a pre-trial hearing, the former Penn State defensive coordinator gave a football analogy:

“We’re going to stay the course and fight for four quarters,” he said.

During opening statements last week, defense attorney Joe Amendola told jurors they would hear Sandusky in his own words. One could assume that meant he would testify when given the opportunity.

Carlisle defense attorney Jay Abom told abc27 News that Sandusky’s testimony is the only defense strategy, especially after the jury heard four days of emotional testimony from accusers.

“In my opinion, his only chance of winning will be for him to personally convince the jury he did not do it,” Abom said.

Dauphin County Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo calls it a risky move. He said having a defendant vulnerable on the stand is a prosecutor’s dream.

“That’s something every prosecutor wants, to actually confront the defendant,” Chardo said. “I’m sure in this case, Joe McGettigan is looking forward to the cross-examination.”

Abom agreed that is a possibility, but in a “he said, she said” case, he said hearing from the accused and supporters is the best defense strategy.

“I would expect the defense to put forth evidence of Jerry Sandusky’s good deeds, good character, people who know him in the community to say nice things about him,” Abom said, “and then add his own testimony with that and it may be enough to create doubt so that the jury could find him not guilty.”

Abom said it is customary for defense teams to file motions for acquittal on some or all of the charges. He expects Amendola will do so next week.

By Dave Marcheskie – ABC27

ChildFirst Pennsylvania training held at Messiah College

The campus of Messiah College is quiet with students on spring break, but inside Boyer Hall it’s a different story.

This week professionals are being trained as part of the ChildFirst Pennsylvania program. The program changes how police officers and other first responders handle cases of suspected child abuse.

Jason Kutulakis, of Abom and Kutulakis Law Firm in Carlisle, is one of many professionals volunteering his time to the training program. He says ChildFirst makes children the priority in cases of suspected abuse, rather than the investigation.

“Many think we need to make sure we get a statement, we need a good prosecution, but we reverse that a little bit, we make the child the priority and we teach our forensic interviewers how to obtain information from the child,” he said.

The program has been in the works for several years. It’s working to create better understanding of how children relay information, and what types of questions help trigger better responses.

“We as adults think we all communicate the same way,” Kutulakis said. “Children don’t operate the same way.”

By developing this protocol, ChildFirst will prevent victims from having to be interviewed several times.

By Jeannie Flitner – ABC27

York man cited 14th time for driving with suspended license

Driving under a suspended license in Pennsylvania comes with tough consequences. Drivers can be fined and even thrown in jail. But 14 violations is the number it took for a York man to become what’s known as a “habitual offender.”

Harry Morales, 54, was pulled over Saturday when he was seen swerving while behind the wheel, according to police. When a state trooper ran his record, he found it was the 14th time Morales was caught driving under a suspended license.

Online court records also indicate Morales has pleaded guilty to seven DUI’s since 1988.

It wasn’t until last year that he pleaded to being a habitual offender, which may seem like an obvious title given his record, but in the eyes of the law it’s not that simple.

Attorney John Abom, who specializes in traffic cases, said a Pennsylvania driver must make three of the same infractions within a 5-year period in order to be deemed “habitual.”

“Although driving under suspension doesn’t always go to whether a person is a habitual offender or not, if you repeatedly commit the infractions you face increasing larger jail sentences,” Abom said.

It’s unclear if or how much jail time Morales could face if convicted. Court documents indicate he was not under the influence during his most recent offense.

By Alexandria Hoff – ABC27

Susquehanna Township School District recently paid $600K to settle student’s sexual assault claim

In the wake of a federal magistrate’s opinion that the Susquehanna Twp. School District acted with “deliberate indifference” to a student’s claim that she was sexually assaulted by a teacher, the district recently paid $600,000 to settle the case.

Additionally, the district has agreed to conduct annual sexual harassment training for all teachers and students as part of the settlement with the student, who claimed former drivers education teacher James D. Frank forced her to perform a sex act in 2006.

A Dauphin County court acquitted Frank of assault in August 2007. Frank cannot recover his teaching license since surrendering it in 2008, days before a pending revocation hearing at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. His attorney said at the time that Frank gave up the fight for health reasons.

Under the settlement, provided to The Patriot-News following a right-to-know request, Frank and retired Susquehanna Twp. High School Principal Kermit Leitner must pay $500 to a child-abuse-prevention or animal-protection charity. The district’s insurer will cover the $600,000 payment.

In her suit, Frank’s accuser claimed that her security and privacy had been violated, and the district maintained a “hostile educational environment” and retaliated against her for reporting sexual harassment. The harassment included Leitner’s letter to district employees soliciting funds for Frank’s defense, and students wearing T-shirts supporting Frank, she claimed.

The student, who was 16 at the time, claimed in the lawsuit that the hostility she encountered forced her to leave school for homebound instruction. The student, who is 22 now, received her diploma from Susquehanna Twp. High School and is now in college, said her attorney, Jason Kutulakis.

“This case is so similar to Penn State, it’s a little scary,” Kutulakis said, referring to the ongoing Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse investigation.

Sandusky was charged in November with sexually abusing several boys over more than a decade, and two Penn State officials were charged with lying to an investigating grand jury about an incident that was reported on campus in 2002. Amid criticism that school officials did not respond appropriately, the university’s board fired former President Graham Spanier and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno.

Frank did not return calls for comment. District solicitor P. Daniel Altland called the settlement “a compromise” and wouldn’t comment on the district’s performance as described by the judge.

“It’s not really an admission or acknowledgment whether it’s indifference, assault, or whatever,” Altland said.

The settlement was reached in December, ending the case, which had been filed in U.S. Middle District Court in 2009. The district, Frank and his wife, and other school officials were parties in the lawsuit.

In July, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mildred E. Methvin rejected the defendants’ motions to dismiss the lawsuit, finding merit in the accuser’s claims that she endured “quid pro quo sexual harassment,” she reported her alleged assault to proper authorities, and the district responded with “deliberate indifference.”

District officials had warned Frank about violating a policy forbidding behind-the-wheel, or BTW, driving lessons for one student at a time, the court found. And in the 1999-2000 school year, Frank had to apologize after he asked to see a female student’s nipple ring. The district took a “lackadaisical approach” to correcting Frank’s conduct, Methvin wrote.

“Had a formal reprimand or correction been given, or had school authorities followed-up to ensure compliance with the BTW policy, such behavior may have stopped and plaintiff’s assault arguably could not have occurred,” Methvin’s order read.

Frank’s accuser “will tell you that she was assaulted twice – once sexually, and the second time, the way it was handled, and it was equally as damaging,” said Kutulakis, of Abom & Kutulakis, Carlisle. “Kids should go to school, and that should be a safe haven for them.”

Parents should also know that “there are skilled people in place” to properly handle reports of wrongdoing, said Kutulakis, who earlier this month was appointed by the state House to Pennsylvania’s Task Force on Child Protection.

Susquehanna Twp. School District Superintendent Susan M. Kegerise said she couldn’t say if the settlement amounts to an admission of guilt because she didn’t work there when the alleged assault and harassment were reported.

In response to the settlement, the district is planning programs this year to educate younger students on bullying, and older students and staff on sexual harassment, Kegerise said. For future years, the district will build a system that ensures consistent responses district-wide to sexual harassment, she said.

“It is an ongoing issue at all districts, keeping aware and keeping the dialog open,” she said. “It’s not an easy issue to tackle. What can we do to improve that as a district, as a staff? That’s what we’re going to work on.”

Still, the parties differ on some next steps. Kutulakis praised Kegerise for improving sexual harassment policies and said that federal law requires appointment of a Title IX coordinator – a “point person” known throughout the district — to administer sexual harassment cases, which fall under the federal law banning gender discrimination in schools.

Kegerise said the district doesn’t “have an official Title IX coordinator. I don’t know any district that does.” All district guidance counselors are trained in dealing with child abuse claims, and all faculty members are updated every year on laws mandating reporting of suspected child abuse, she said.

The district’s existing harassment policy will be reviewed as part of ongoing policy upgrades, “to glean what could have been done differently” Kegerise said.

“You always learn from mistakes,” she said.

School Board President Jesse Rawls, Sr., said the district’s insurer determined the settlement payout, and the board hasn’t yet discussed policy changes or sexual harassment training.

The payout has not affected the district’s insurance premiums “right now,” and any future impact can’t be predicted, Kegerise said. The district’s policy covering the settlement was through the Pennsylvania School Boards Association Insurance Trust and cost $19,664, said Business Manager Michael Frentz. The district’s current policy, under a different insurer, expires June 30, he said.

M. Diane McCormick, The Patriot-News

Members named to state task force to prevent child abuse

A state task force created to prevent child abuse has now been filled with members. Governor Corbett, along with Senate and House leaders, made appointments to the Task Force on Child Protection.

“This task force has a tremendously important job,” Corbett said. “It will provide input to help us strengthen state laws and ensure every Pennsylvania child receives the protection from harm they deserve.”

The four members appointed by the governor are Hon. David W. Heckler, Bucks County District Attorney; William Strickland, president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation; Dr. Cindy W. Christian, M.D., director of Safe Place: The Center for Child Protection and Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Delilah Rumburg, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

“There is a real need to review how we approach, define, investigate and respond to the issue of child abuse overall,” Speaker of the House, Rep. Sam Smith (R-Jefferson County).

Members appointed by the House include Jason Kutalakis, senior partner, Abom & Kutalakis LLP, Carlisle; Jackie Bernard, Chief Deputy District Attorney, Blair County; and Hon. Arthur Grim, Senior Judge, Court of Common Pleas of Berks County.

The Senate’s members are Dr. Rachel Berger, member of Child Protection Team at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh; Garrison Ipock Jr., executive director, The Glen Mills Schools, Glen Mills; and Carol Hobbs-Picciotto, MHS, Intake Social Worker, City of Philadelphia.


Neighbor to spend life in prison for killing 88-year-old Cumberland County woman

In a move that may have allowed him to avoid the death penalty, Colton M. Hardy this morning pleaded no contest to first-degree murder charges in the 2009 beating death of Ethel Weaver, his 88-year-old neighbor in Dickinson Township.

Cumberland County President Judge Kevin A. Hess immediately sentenced Hardy, 21, to life in prison.

Under his plea deal, outlined by Senior Assistant District Attorney Christylee Peck, Hardy also must pay more than $10,000 in restitution to Weaver’s family to cover funeral costs and the clean-up of the murder scene in Weaver’s Torway Road home.

Hardy was to be tried in the case on Monday. The plea deal was reached Thursday.

Peck said authorities were prepared to prove that Hardy broke into Weaver’s home, watched her as she slept and fatally beat her when she awoke. He then stole her car and drove for hours before returning and parking it near his home.

Hardy told several state troopers he had committed the murder and led officers to key pieces of evidence, including a bloody glove, Peck said.

Hardy gave a tearful apology after Hess accepted his plea. “It wasn’t right. I can’t take it back. If I could, I would,” he said.

His lawyer, John Abom, said the defense team would have presented evidence that Hardy was abused as a child, a factor that might have contributed to the murder.

Tawyna Wagner, Weaver’s granddaughter, told Hess how the murder has upended her life and that of Weaver’s other relatives. She recalled Weaver as a kind, compassionate woman who would never turn away someone in need.

“She was the last person on Earth who deserved this,” Wagner said.

MATT MILLER, The Patriot-News

Local lawyer pushes for stricter standards for reporting child abuse

Members of the local law community are reacting to how Penn State’s administration handled allegations that former football Coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused 8 boys.

Lawyer Jason Kutulakis of Abom & Kutulakis law firm in Carlisle says the allegations surrounding his alma mater are difficult to hear.

“From the perspective of being actually a parent, I’m outraged by the alleged conduct, or lack thereof on behalf of Penn State,” he said.

Kutulakis says he has requested an amendment to the Child Protective Services Law in light of the recent allegations.

Under current law, a mandated reporter in a schools setting is required to report the suspicion of child abuse to a school administrator. However, that administrator has the power to decide whether or not the claim warrants getting law enforcement and other child advocacy groups involved.

Kutulakis says this situation is a good example of how the current law is leaving children unprotected.

“The Child Protective Services system is there to protect those who are the most vulnerable, and that’s our youth,” he said, “We must rally around them whenever there is an allegation of child abuse.”

He said Senate Bill 549 touches on making changes to the current Child Protective Services Law, that could help more cases of child abuse get reported by school administrators.

By Jeannie Flitner – ABC27

Court Report: Same old song and dance

While every defendant gets a chance speak at sentencing, sometimes it’s better when they choose not to and instead accept the penalty for their previous actions.

Especially when the judge is familiar with the defendants and their previous records.

For several of the sentencings on June 28, the judges in the Cumberland County Courthouse appeared to be done listening and ready to get straight answers.

Darrell Marlin Anderson

After having already granted Darrell Marlin Anderson two continuances, Judge Edward Guido was leery of giving the repeat offender any more postponements.

Anderson, 51, pleaded guilty on April 14 to driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content level of more than 0.16 percent in July 2010. The offense was the third of subsequent DUI offense for the Palmyra man, who has numerous dockets from several counties.

As part of his parole from prison on those previous sentences, Anderson was ordered to abstain from alcohol.

Back on May 31, Anderson told the Guido that he needed at least three more weeks before beginning his sentence to help finish building a new barn for his mother.

The judge graciously granted the request and rescheduled for June 28.

Standing before Guido that morning, Anderson said he again needed about two to three weeks to finish up.

“I don’t have in mind to continue it,” Guido said flatly, peering up over his glasses.

Anderson explained that he had lost two of his workers after firing them when they messed up the equipment he was using. Without their added help and needing to repair the equipment, he lost significant time, he said.

“It caused a lot of complications for me,” Anderson said.

As the judge went back and forth with Anderson and First Assistant Public Defender Linda Hollinger, nothing seemed to be getting resolved.

Finally, Hollinger said that if Anderson was making up the story about the barn, his mother would be in the back of the courtroom waving at the judge.

Guido decided to ask the woman a few questions to test her son’s story.

The judge first asked about the barn, and the woman said she hoped it would be finished by winter at the rate the project was going.

Guido then questioned how much time Anderson spent each day working, and the woman said she believed about five hours or so.

After acknowledging that Anderson lives with her, Guido asked the all-important question: “How often does he drink?”

Pausing for a moment, the woman looked up at the judge and said, “I have to tell you the truth and he does drink.”

The judge did not waste any time.

He sentenced Anderson to one to five years in a state correctional institution and ordered him to pay a $2,500 fine.

Brian Richard Wiser

When Brian Richard Wiser got in trouble for drinking and driving the first time, one of the stipulations of his probation was to not drink alcohol.

However, the 27-year-old Shippensburg man pleaded guilty to his second driving under the influence offense May 31.

Despite the offenses, Wiser’s defense attorney, Joel Nori, told Guido that his client does not have a drinking problem.

“You don’t get to a 0.283 unless you have a drinking problem,” Guido said in disbelief.

Wiser offered to explain the high blood alcohol content level he had the night he was arrested for driving under the influence.

“You have to build up that tolerance to be able to stay conscious to get to that level of alcohol,” Guido said. “But if you want to dig a hole, go ahead.”

Wiser quickly changed his mind and prepared to hear his penalty.

Guido sentenced him to 90 days to five years in Cumberland County Prison and authorized him for work release. Wiser was also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine.

As a last minute thought, Nori asked if Wiser could self commit to the prison for his sentence on July 5, in order to spend the holiday weekend with his family.

“No, I’m sorry,” Guido said, putting the file aside.

Jun Hyun Kim

When it came time for the sentencing for Jun Hyun Kim, Guido made his priority very clear even before defense attorney John Abom began to speak about the DUI conviction.

“I’m not concerned as much with that as I was with the handgun,” Guido said. “He was driving around drunk with a loaded handgun. That brings up red flags all over the place, Mr. Abom.”

Guido referred to a previous incident when the 29-year-old Maryland man was also found with a handgun in his possession.

Abom began to explain how the incident was from Kim’s younger days and that he has since been accepted at the University of Maryland and become part of a nonprofit group.

“What I’m concerned about is the gun,” Guido said. “G-U-N.”

Abom acknowledged the concern and explained that while his client did not have a valid license to carry the firearm, he was legally allowed to possess one.

“I understand, but he’s got a history of gun possession, a history of prohibited offensive weapons possession,” Guido said.

When given a chance to speak, Kim lowered his head and apologized.

“I’m sorry sir,” he said. “It was a mistake. I would never hurt anybody. I just want to get past this.”

Guido sentenced him to 72 hours to six months and to pay a $1,000 fine for driving under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance, but acknowledged 16 days Kim previously served behind bars.

The judge also sentenced Kim to 23 months of supervised probation for possession of prohibited offensive weapons and to pay a $500 fine for unlawful possession of a small amount of marijuana.

With the credit, Kim was paroled immediately to begin his probation.

Derek Allen Spitz and Bradley Lee Eichelberger

Since it was the first time the young defendant standing before him was being tried as an adult, Judge Albert Masland wanted to make sure Derek Allen Spitz understood the possible consequences of his actions.

Defense attorney Allen Welch explained how Spitz was not fond of his last stay in jail and was hoping to receive a time-served sentence for the seven days he spent behind bars previously.

The 18-year-old Carlisle man pleaded guilty to simple assault, theft by unlawful taking or disposition and unlawful possession of a small amount of marijuana May 26.

Welch admitted that his client acted “for no good reason” when he and his friend, Bradley Lee Eichelberger, assaulted a person and stole $20 from the individual on Dec. 8, 2010.

“I’m not satisfied that seven days is sufficient,” Masland said, looking over the file.

He sentenced Spitz to spend 15 days to 12 months in prison for simple assault, in conjunction with a year of probation for the theft by unlawful taking or disposition conviction. The judge also order that Spitz pay $20 in restitution with Eichelberger and a $100 fine for the drug offense.

The judge acknowledged credit for the seven days and also made Spitz eligible for a re-entry program, which may cut a day or two from the sentence if he remains on his best behavior while incarcerated.

“I want to drill this home a little bit more, how severe this could have been, if things would have went differently,” Masland said.

When Eichelberger, 18, stood before Masland a few cases later, the judge stuck with his lesson plan.

“I do feel it’s important to impress upon you the gravity of this offense,” Masland said. “It could have been far worse.”

Masland sentenced the Carlisle teen to 15 days to 12 months as well and gave him credit for the six days he previously served for criminal conspiracy to simple assault. The judge authorized him for work release and to be eligible for a reentry program.

Masland also ordered the Eichelberger to undergo 12 months of probation and help repay the $20 in restitution with Spitz for criminal conspiracy to theft by unlawful taking.

Eichelberger pleaded guilty to both offenses on May 26.

By Stephanie Weaver – The Sentinel

Pa. Prosecutor approves charges against babysitter and girl, 10, in baby’s death

Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal said he has authorized charges against a young girl and her babysitter in the death of an infant at a Shippensburg home last summer.

Fogal said a charge of third-degree murder is appropriate for the girl, who was two weeks shy of her 10th birthday when her “violent acts” caused abusive head trauma to the baby and ultimately his death.

It was determined during a hearing Friday that girl will be tried in juvenile court rather than in adult criminal court. Fogal said she will be tried as a delinquent, however, meaning if convicted she could face time in a juvenile detention center.

The girl’s attorney, Jason Kutulakis, said he disputes the charge.

“There are no red flags that she formed an intent to kill,” said Kutulakis. “There are no red flags she has a mental disorder or a personality disorder. She’s a good student and she does not have a disciplinary problem, so it just doesn’t fit.”

Fogal said he additionally approved charges of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child against Dottie Bowers for “failing to seek immediate medical care” for 10-month-old Heath Ryder.

“I don’t want Dottie to be looked at as doing something wrong because all she did was what she thought was the right thing to do,” defense attorney Joseph Caraciolo said.

Involuntary manslaughter is a second-degree felony when the victim is under the age of 12, with a maximum penalty of 20 years. Bowers was arraigned Friday and released on $50,000 unsecured bail.

The filing of criminal complaints follow the findings of a coroner’s inquest, in which a jury on April 15 recommended the charge of involuntary manslaughter against Bowers and the third-degree murder charge against the unidentified girl, who is accused of shaking and tossing the baby July 29 at a home day care operated by Bowers.

Dr. Mark Dias, a pediatric neurosurgeon who treated Heath after he was taken to Penn State Hershey Medical Center, testified that the infant suffered extremely traumatic brain injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome. Dias described the injuries as “significant, violent trauma.”

The 10-year-old was called as a witness during the inquest, but chose to remain silent.

Dias added during the inquest that there wasn’t much doctors could do once Health arrived at the hospital, but said his injuries might have been treatable had Bowers called 911 when she found him unresponsive. Police testified that Bowers never called for help.

Heath’s mother, Shelly Ryder, told jurors that she made the emergency call after Bowers ignored her pleas. She said she was on her way home from work when Bowers phoned to tell her that Heath would not wake up and was breathing abnormally. She said she rushed to the home to find her son limp and lifeless, and called 911 while she performed CPR.

“I’ll never understand because this was a baby,” Ryder told abc27 Friday. “This was not an older child who could say to her ‘stop, you’re hurting me.’ This was a baby.”

Bowers was called before the coroner’s jury, but she also exercised her Fifth Amendment right to not testify.

Fogal said authorities met with Heath’s family at the conclusion of the investigation, and is in agreement with the decision to pursue criminal charges.

By Myles Snyder & Megan Healey – ABC27