ELYRIA — Alyson Sweany, the mother of an Amherst 3-year-old who died from severe head injuries in March, pleaded not guilty Thursday during her arraignment on three counts of endangering children.
Sweany, 22, is accused of violating her duty of care for Jesse Crum Jr., Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said. Will declined to comment further because the investigation into Jesse’s death is ongoing.
Jesse was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland on March 12 and died a few days later. An autopsy determined the boy died from blunt head trauma and had brain hemorrhages and pneumonia when he died. The injuries were caused by violence of an undetermined origin, according to the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office.
Jesse’s paternal grandmother, Christina Crum, has said doctors told the family that Jesse had been beaten.
John Chambers, Sweany’s attorney, and Don Tittle, the attorney who represented Sweany’s boyfriend, Peter Jones, have said that Jesse was injured while climbing on a bookshelf at the Amherst home of Jones’ parents. Several items, including a laptop computer, struck Jesse in the head, the attorneys have said.
They also have said that Jesse appeared fine over the next few days to his family, who took him to the hospital when he appeared lethargic.
Jones, 23, hanged himself in his parents’ home days before he was scheduled to be sentenced on endangering children charges for scalding Jesse while giving the boy a bath in January 2009. Jones had insisted that the scalding, which took place while he was babysitting Jesse, was an accident but had pleaded guilty to the charges.
After Jesse was taken to the hospital, Sweany’s other son, of whom Jones was the father, was taken from the couple’s custody and placed with relatives.
Sweany is due back in Oberlin Municipal Court later this month on disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct charges stemming from a screaming match outside Jones’ parents home in May. Jones had pleaded guilty in that case before his death.
Jones’ parents, Dallas and Teresa, had originally been charged in March with possession of marijuana after Amherst police searching their home for evidence in connection with Jesse’s death discovered marijuana plants. Those charges have since been dropped, although Amherst police have said the couple remains under investigation.
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