December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Alyson Sweany opts for judge trial in Jesse Crum Jr. case

ELYRIA — Alyson Sweany, who is facing charges of endangering children in connection with the death of her 3-year-old son last year, will forgo a jury trial in March and instead allow a county judge to decide her case.

John Chambers, Sweany’s attorney, said he believes his client will receive a fair trial from Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi, something he isn’t certain she would receive from a jury.

Attorney John Chambers and Alyson Sweany appear in court Tuesday in Elyria. (CT photo by Brad Dicken.)

Attorney John Chambers and Alyson Sweany appear in court Tuesday in Elyria. (CT photo by Brad Dicken.)

“There’s been some vitriolic reaction in this community,” Chambers said.

Sweany’s son, Jesse Crum Jr., died a few days after he was taken by helicopter to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland on March 12.

The cause of death was determined to be blunt head trauma, brain hemorrhages and pneumonia. The injuries were caused by violence of an undetermined origin, according to the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, which performed the autopsy.

Also facing charges in connection with Jesse’s death are Dallas and Therese Jones, the parents of Peter Jones, Sweany’s boyfriend, who hanged himself in his parents’ Amherst home June 15.

At the time of his suicide, Peter Jones had been awaiting sentencing on endangering children charges related to a January 2009 incident in which Jesse was scalded while taking a bath. Police and prosecutors have declined to say whether Jones would have faced charges in Jesse’s death had he lived.

Jesse had lived in the Joneses’ home, where police reported finding marijuana plants growing while they were searching for evidence in Jesse’s death. The Joneses, who have pleaded not guilty, are facing drug charges from the marijuana plants and some of the endangering children charges they face stem from the drugs as well.

Jesse’s younger half-brother, whose parents were Sweany and Peter Jones, was taken from his mother and is now staying with family members.

Since Jesse’s death, the Joneses’ home has been vandalized and Chambers said numerous nasty comments have been posted online about Sweany.

“The death of poor Jesse is causing a substantial negative reaction toward my client,” he said.

Sweany’s supporters contend that Jesse was injured accidentally a few days before he was taken to the hospital when the boy was climbing on a bookcase in the Joneses’ home and it tipped over. He was struck in the head, they contend, by items including a laptop computer.

Jesse appeared normal after the bookcase fell over, Sweany’s family has said, but when he began acting strange he was taken to the hospital.

But the family of Jesse Crum Sr., the boy’s father, contends that the younger Jesse had been abused and his body was covered with bruises.

The two sides have engaged in public arguments and have leveled allegations of impropriety against each other over the past months.

Sweany remains free on bond.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.