ELYRIA — Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi agreed Thursday to grant Alyson Sweany early release from the four-year prison sentence he imposed in September 2011 for her role in the 2010 death of her son, Jesse Crum Jr.
The 25-year-old Sweany, wearing a green jail uniform and handcuffs, told Miraldi that she has made “horrible decisions as a mom,” but that she has tried to better herself while incarcerated.
“I want to have a bright future,” Sweany said. “I don’t want to ever have to go back to prison. I don’t want to be a criminal.”
Click any image to view larger.
Sweany pleaded guilty to child endangering charges two years ago for her failure to halt the abuse that prosecutors contend her then-boyfriend, Peter Jones, inflicted on her 3-year-old son.
The boy was flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland on March 15, 2010, and died from his injuries about a week later. An autopsy determined Jesse died from blunt head trauma, brain hemorrhages and pneumonia, although her attorney, Paul Griffin, has previously suggested the boy died from a blood platelet disorder.
Jones, who had pleaded guilty to charges he scalded Jesse in a bath in 2009, committed suicide while the boy’s death was still being investigated.
Miraldi granted the early release over the objections of prosecutors and Christina Crum, Jesse’s paternal grandmother.
Crum said that Sweany has continued to contact her family and she even had to get a protection order against Sweany
before she was locked up. She also said she didn’t believe Sweany has learned from her mistakes.
“Alyson Sweany showed no remorse to this court until the day she was sentenced,” Crum said.
Crum also said that she worries about the safety of Sweany’s other son, who is now about the same age as Jesse was when he died. The boy is in the custody of Sweany’s relatives, and Miraldi barred her from seeing the child until the judge who stripped her of custody can review the case.
Crum also complained that Lorain County Children Services had failed Jesse by not taking the boy away from Sweany.
Assistant County Prosecutor Laura Dezort said that Children Services didn’t take action because Sweany complied with everything they asked her to do following the scalding. But she said Sweany was only telling caseworkers what they wanted to hear.
She said that’s exactly what she feared Sweany was doing in her request to win early release.
Dezort said in Sweany’s first request for judicial release, which Miraldi denied without a hearing, she focused on herself, not Jesse. That changed in the second letter she sent to Miraldi, Dezort said.
In that letter, Sweany wrote that when she first requested early release, “I didn’t have the confidence to discuss who I was in the past. I know now the reason was I still needed to come to terms with the poor choices I was making for my life and the lives of my children.”
Sweany also wrote that she “didn’t fulfill my duties as a mother. Because of that, I played a role in the death of my son Jesse.”
Dezort said Sweany hadn’t even served as much time in prison as Jesse was alive.
“This was a death that was preventable. This was a death that should never have happened if Ms. Sweany, for one second, had just stopped and acted like a mother and not a party girl,” Dezort said.
She said Sweany tested positive for marijuana at the time Jesse died.
At the time, Sweany and her two children were living at the Amherst home of Jones’ parents, Dallas and Therese Jones. The couple pleaded guilty to endangering children and drug charges for a marijuana grow operation police found in their basement while investigating Jesse’s death. They both received probation on those charges.
Sweany’s supporters have long argued that Jesse was injured when a bookcase he was climbing on fell on him a few days before he was taken to the hospital. Prosecutors and the Crum family have rejected those suggestions.
Miraldi warned Sweany before ordering her release that she would be closely monitored for five years and would have to get counseling. He also told her that if there are problems, he would return her to prison.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.