Suspect pleads guilty, faces 10 years in toddler's death
A 28-year-old Jefferson County man could face up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter for causing the death of an Indiana County toddler.
Shawn D. Anderson-Holmes of Brookville opted to plead guilty before President Judge William Martin at his formal arraignment for the March 5 death of his former girlfriend's son, Colby T. Jozefczyk, 17 months, of Saltsburg.
On Oct. 11, Anderson-Holmes decided to waive his right to a preliminary hearing after District Attorney Patrick Dougherty announced prosecutors would not seek the death penalty.
If Anderson-Holmes were convicted of first-degree murder at trial, he could have received a sentence of life in prison.
Anderson-Holmes' attorney, Donald McKee of the Public Defender's Office, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
State police in Indiana alleged Anderson-Holmes suffocated the child when he cried and then slammed him against the walls and furniture in his mother's Saltsburg apartment. Police allege Colby was beaten on the buttocks and hit in the forehead in his final 48 hours of life.
Martin ordered a presentence investigation by the county probation office. He scheduled Anderson-Holmes to be sentenced Jan. 28.
Anderson-Holmes remains in the county jail without bail.
The boy's mother, Kayla M. Lyons, 25, of Saltsburg, is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and endangering the welfare of children. She is free on signature bond while awaiting trial.
Police allege Lyons threw her son into walls and furniture and hit his buttocks with a hairbrush. In addition, she is charged with simple assault and endangering the welfare of her 3-year-old daughter, Ava Jozefczyk.
Colby died at 11:58 a.m. March 5 in Excela Health Latrobe Hospital, where he was taken when Lyons found him unresponsive.
The couple's arrests came after a five-month investigation that involved interviews of family members, neighbors and a review of the toddler's death by the attorney general's medical-legal advisory board on child abuse, police said.
Anderson-Holmes told police that the child died in his arms the night of March 4, when he allegedly put his hand over the boy's mouth “for a period of time” to stop his crying, according to an affidavit filed before District Judge George Thachik of Clymer. He then laid the unresponsive boy in his crib.
Police said Colby had numerous bruises and contusions on his buttocks, forehead and right arm, as well as three contusions in his mouth.
The children's father, Jonathan Jozefczyk of Murrysville, had primary custody of the children. He had taken them to their mother's apartment to visit for a few hours on March 3 and then allowed them to stay for the weekend when he saw the children appeared to be in good health, police said. Lyons was not married to her children's father, and Anderson-Holmes had moved in with her a few days before the assault, police said.
Lyons allegedly hit both children on the buttocks with a hairbrush on March 4, threw her daughter against a wall and a sofa, and slapped her on the face when she would not eat, according to police. When Colby would not eat, Lyons allegedly picked him up by his wrist and forced him to stand on his toes.
Police allege the children were routinely neglected by their mother.
The Westmoreland County Children's Bureau and Indiana County Children and Youth Services became involved after police were informed on Feb. 17 that Jonathan Jozefczyk saw bruises on his children after they visited their mother, and he took them to a hospital for treatment, police said.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.