Search warrant yields evidence

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A detective from the Blair County District Attorney’s office executed two search warrants last week to obtain medical records involved in the prosecution of a Claysburg couple facing multiple child abuse charges.

Court records show that Det. Thomas Brandt received records from Nason Hospital in Roaring Spring that related to physical abuse of two children in the case.

The affidavits with the warrants, filed in the Blair County Courthouse, state that one child reported he had been thrown into a window. A second affidavit reported that another child had been thrown onto his back, injuring his ribs.

The warrants were approved by District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio on Oct. 21 and were executed the next day.

The returns indicated the records were had been obtained by the investigator.

Tabatha Annemarie Partsch, 40, and her husband, Patrick, 34, are in the Blair County Prison awaiting trial for the sexual abuse of five children who visited their home last year.

The cases broke in the summer of 2012 with the initial charges filed against Tabatha. The charges against Patrick came later that summer.

The issuance of search warrants comes at a time when the prosecution and defense attorneys are preparing trial.

Altoona attorney Douglas Keating is representing Patrick Partsch, while Assistant Public Defender Julia Burke is the attorney for Tabatha Partsch.

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Assistant District Attorney Jackie Bernard.

Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron held a status conference last Friday, and after meeting with attorneys in his chambers he convened a short hearing, during which he said it was time the case moved to the trial stage.

As occurs in every case, plea negotiations have been underway, but as of Friday it was uncertain if any agreements could be reached.

Milliron said he intended to hold another hearing on Nov. 8 to determine if it was possible to obtain agreements in the case or if the two intended to go to trial.

The judge said if a trial appeared inevitable he would be setting a date very soon.

Milliron has other decisions to make with respect to a trial or trials.

Patrick Partsch through his attorney has made a request to be tried separately from his wife, but the prosecution wants the two to be tried together.

The judge said a decision on that question is near, but as of Monday he had not reached one.

Another decision that must be made is whether the child victims can testify by video rather than appearing in the courtroom.

Pennsylvania law permits young children to testify from a separate room to avoid the trauma of having to be in the same room with the alleged perpetrators.

The child victims also live in Wisconsin, a logistical problem that has been of concern to the judge.

Milliron asked Bernard to keep him informed about the status of the case, noting if plea agreements can be reached he would be willing to take them during the status conference on Nov 8.

That could mean having the children testify by videoconference on that date also, he said.

Patrick and Tabatha Partsch face multiple counts of abuse, including child rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and many other related offenses.

“The time for delay is over,” said Milliron last Friday as he discussed the case in open court.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.