Judge orders trial for Loyalhanna Township couple accused of assaulting infant
Doctors feared a 3-month-old girl born prematurely would not survive abuse that left her with more than 30 rib fractures, other broken bones and internal bleeding, a doctor testified Thursday.
“She was as sick as a child can be,” Dr. Rachel Berger of the Child Protection Team of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UMPC testified via telephone at a preliminary hearing for the baby's parents.
“Certainly the first day, there was concern she was not going to survive this,” Berger said. “The injuries required significant force.”
Washington Township District Judge Jason Buczak ordered Elizabeth M. Fair, 21, and Christopher L. Peterman, 19, both of 132 Mulberry St., Loyalhanna Township, to stand trial for aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child because of the injuries suffered by their infant daughter.
“I can't even imagine how much pain this baby was in,” Berger said. “I don't think in 12 years (of medical practice), I've ever seen a child with so many rib fractures.”
Neither suspect spoke during the hearing. Peterman, dressed in a blue jumpsuit, denied hurting the infant as he walked into the courtroom. Fair's attorney said she did not hurt the baby.
Clem Peterman, the suspect's father, said he attended the hearing in the interest of his granddaughter. He declined to say who is caring for the infant, but said that her health is improving.
Fair and Christopher Peterman have been ordered to have no contact with the infant.
“I don't like to think my son did it and I don't like to think Elizabeth did it,” Clem Peterman said. “This is unreal.”
State police said they were contacted by the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau after the couple took the infant to Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg with “life-threatening injuries” on Oct. 20. She was flown to Children's Hospital.
The baby had suffered more than 30 rib fractures, a skull fracture, a broken right femur, two fractured arms, a lacerated spleen and bruises of the heart and lungs, said Berger, who examined the infant on Oct. 22.
The child had been abused on more than one occasion, she said.
The couple initially told doctors that they brought the infant into the emergency room after her breathing monitor alarm went off, according to an affidavit filed by Trooper Todd Adamski.
Christopher Peterman told doctors at Excela that “the injuries must have occurred when the baby's bassinet frame collapsed” in their mobile home, police said.
Berger disputed that fall, about 8 to 10 inches, could cause such extensive injuries.
Attorney Timothy Dawson, who represents Fair, and Public Defender Greg Cecchetti, who represents Christopher Peterman, suggested the infant could have been injured when the couple performed CPR after she had stopped breathing.
“There is absolutely no proof that the mother injured her child in any way,” Dawson said.
Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Painter sues Westmoreland County commissioner over payment
- East Huntingdon veterinarian seeks to prevent former mentor from opening nearby clinic
- 2 women held for trial in Fayette mobile home park shooting
- North Carolina man sent nude photo to 8-year-old girl in Grapeville, police say
- Marijuana operation evidence can be used in murder case against Hempfield man, judge rules
- Hempfield prison film canceled because of Pa. budget impasse
- Death penalty considered for Rostraver man accused in bludgeoning death of sister’s boyfriend
- Police: Dirt bike rider struck man, fought officers in Jeannette
- ‘Caretaker of the Loyalhanna’: Latrobe volunteer clears creek
- Hempfield man charged with beating woman, refusing for 2 days to take her to hospital
- Motorcyclist hospitalized after hitting deer in Derry