December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Judge OKs postponing sentencing in boy’s death

ELYRIA – A judge agreed to give the attorney of Alyson Sweany more time to look into the possibility that a blood platelet disorder rather than child abuse caused the death of Jesse Crum Jr.

Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi at first said he would deny Paul Griffin’s request for additional time in the case and continue Sweany’s sentencing one week.

But the judge relented a few minutes later after Griffin asked for a month to research the case on his own time with the help of a medical expert to try to determine whether the possible blood disorder was responsible for the 3-year-old’s death.

Miraldi rescheduled the sentencing for Sept. 22, but denied Griffin’s request for court funds to hire an expert.

Sweany, 23, pled guilty to charges of endangering children March 23 in the March 2010 death of her son, and was to be sentenced Thursday.

Griffin told Miraldi he was not withdrawing Sweany’s guilty plea.

“We just want to explore this issue (the possible blood disorder) to make sure” it had no possible bearing on the case, Griffin said.

“There are indications that the child may have suffered from a platelet disorder that led to his death. … It’s just a theory.”

If a review by a medical expert leads to a future belief that Sweany was innocent of the charges she earlier pled guilty to, “it is possible we would take the issue to trial,” Griffin said.

Objecting to Griffin’s request, Assistant County Prosecutor Laura Dezort said if such an examination led to Sweany’s guilty plea ultimately being withdrawn, “all bets would be off about refiling the case to the grand jury. Miss Sweany pled guilty and admitted her guilt.”

Dezort called the theory about a blood disorder a “delaying tactic” and “red herring.”

“If the child had not been beaten, there probably would not be a blood disorder,” Dezort said. “This (review) is something that should have been done long ago.”

The child died in March 2010 at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland from what medical authorities concluded was blunt head trauma, brain hemorrhages and pneumonia.

Griffin was appointed as Sweany’s counsel June 27 after John Chambers, one of the woman’s former attorneys, was disbarred. Another lawyer, who was a friend of Chambers, opted to step aside from the case as well.

Although Sweany was not found guilty of inflicting child abuse or injuries to Jesse, she was guilty of failing to remove the boy from an environment in which he was exposed “to a ticking time bomb,” Dezort said. Her remarks referred to Sweany’s boyfriend, Peter Jones, who hanged himself in June 2010 days before he was to be sentenced on endangering children charges that sprang from a January 2009 incident in which the small boy was scalded by hot water while taking a bath at the Amherst home of Jones’ parents, Dallas and Therese Jones, with whom Peter Jones and Sweany lived.

Dallas and Therese Jones received probation for endangering children and drug charges stemming from a marijuana growing operation police found in their Amherst home while searching for evidence about what happened to Jesse. The charges they pleaded guilty to were unrelated to Jesse’s death.

Sweany’s family and friends maintain the child’s injuries resulted from an episode in which a bookcase the boy climbed on in the Jones’ home toppled over onto him.

Family members of Jesse Crum Sr., the boy’s father, maintained the boy was routinely abused by Jones and Sweany.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.