Most-serious charge reduced in burning of boy in Saxonburg
The Butler County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday dropped an aggravated assault charge against a Saxonburg man accused of participating in a series of assaults on his girlfriend's 7-year-old son.
Prosecutors also upgraded a reckless endangerment charge to a third-degree felony. However, it carries a lesser penalty than an aggravated assault conviction would have.
As a result, Ed Myers, 36, of Carol Drive agreed to waive his right to a preliminary hearing, and his case will proceed to Butler County Court.
Myers is accused of pouring flammable nail polish remover over the boy and watching as a juvenile in the house set the liquid aflame, causing third-degree burns on the child's chest, neck and face.
Myers, along with his juvenile sons, are also accused of shooting his girlfriend's child with an AirSoft pellet rifle, causing multiple bruises.
Police say Myers failed to get the boy medical attention.
Assistant District Attorney Russ Karl said altering the charges was the best course of action.
“Base on the evidence I gathered today through interviews with the family, the victim and witnesses, it was better at this time,” he said.
Myers' attorney, Gerald Cassady, said they're pleased with the changes.
“It's still a far lesser-grade charge,” Cassady said. “It also shifts the focus of the case, factually, from causation to whether 911 or an ambulance service should have been called or when they should have been called.”
The alleged incidents occurred when Laure Halliwell left her son, Daniel, in Myers' care for about seven hours on May 25. When she returned to Myers' house, she found her son injured and took him to Butler Memorial Hospital. The boy spent several weeks at UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh.
Sheila Paul, a friend of the Halliwell family, gave a brief prepared statement following the hearing.
“They would like to thank all the family, friends and complete strangers for their support and prayers for Daniel and the families involved in this horrific event,” she said. “At this time, the Halliwell family is focused on Daniel's recovery and ask for privacy so they can concentrate on Daniel's care and they can recover from this horrifying event.”
She said the family has set up a fund to collect donations to help pay for medical and other expenses related to the boy's recovery.
Paul said that on the advice of the district attorney's office she could not comment on Daniel's current condition.
Myers continues to be held in the Butler County jail on $250,000 bond.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702.