Charges in baby’s death to be refiled
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County District Attorney Pete Weeks said Monday that he expects to refile criminal charges against the parents of a 1-month old baby who died in 2019 in a small camper in Freedom Township.
Weeks spoke of his intentions in Blair County Court where Judge Jackie Bernard acknowledged Weeks’ withdrawal of the remaining charges against Robert Lee Zeth, 39, and Elizabeth Ann McIntyre, 31.
Defense attorneys Dan Kiss, representing Zeth, and Richard M. Corcoran, representing McIntyre, told Bernard on Monday that they and their clients were prepared to go to trial.
The couple face misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person, conspiracy to tampering with evidence and tampering with evidence, which remained intact after a judicial ruling in February that dismissed the more serious felony child endangerment charges.
In the February ruling, President Judge Elizabeth Doyle found that she didn’t have evidence to support the felony offenses that were filed against Zeth and McIntyre.
Her ruling reflected a court hearing in which Dr. Lauren Huddle, a forensic pathologist from Windber, spoke of listing the child’s cause of death as “undetermined.” While the baby had a small amount of methamphetamine in his blood and liver, Huddle offered no specific explanation for that. She also found no evidence of asphyxiation, even though the baby had been in a small bed with McIntyre and Zeth, when McIntyre awakened and saw blood coming from his nose, police reported in the charges.
In court Monday, where Bernard presided over a review of pending criminal cases, Kiss and Corcoran said their clients had no interest in addressing the pending charges without a trial.
“We’re ready for trial,” Kiss told Bernard.
Outside court, Weeks said he has been in consultation with other medical experts and with state police at Hollidaysburg who investigated the baby’s death. He said he expects the new charges will be substantially the same as the original charges but supported by additional evidence.
State police charged Zeth and McIntyre in August 2019 after launching an investigation on June 8, 2019, when the parents took the unresponsive child to Conemaugh Nason Medical Center, Roaring Spring. He was pronounced dead about a half hour after arriving at the hospital.
At that time of the baby’s death, the couple had their camper parked on a property on Tuscarora Drive.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.