Vandergrift man charged in death of infant son headed to court
A Vandergrift man whose 1-month-old son suffocated and died in September told detectives he shouldn’t have fallen asleep with the infant on his chest, a detective with the Westmoreland County District Attorney’s Office testified Tuesday.
“He had agreed with us that he probably shouldn’t have done that,” Detective John Clark testified.
Isiah Copney, the son of Owen Labrenn Copney, 26, fell asleep with his father Sept. 17 in a house on Columbia Avenue in Vandergrift.
The infant died two days later in Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Clark testified during a preliminary hearing before Allegheny Township District Judge Cheryl J. Peck-Yakopec that Copney told detectives he fell asleep with the child on his chest. When he woke up, his clothing was sweaty. Isiah was face down in the crook of his left armpit and not breathing.
“At that point, he took the baby upstairs to a friend, who is actually the owner of the house, and then they came back downstairs,” Clark testified. “The mother showed up. 911 was called. The ambulance people showed up, and they took the baby to the hospital.”
Following Clark’s testimony, Peck-Yakopec ordered Copney to stand trial in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court on felong charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony child endangerment.
Copney’s attorney, Michael Worgul, unsuccessfully argued that Clark’s testimony violated Copney’s fundamental due process rights because it was based on hearsay.
“All of his testimony is going to be hearsay in that (Clark) wasn’t present and doesn’t have firsthand knowledge of all of the events that occurred,” Worgul said before Clark testified. “They were told to him by somebody else.”
Worgul declined to comment after the hearing. Copney was at the hearing but didn’t testify.
The infant’s mother said she left Isiah alone with Copney while she went to a friend’s house, according to the criminal complaint filed in the case. She said when she returned to Copney’s house and saw Isiah, she knew he was dead, the complaint said.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office said Isiah died of Sudden Unexplained Infant Death, which includes suffocation.
Clark testified that the child’s mother had warned Copney about falling asleep with Isiah on his chest.
“He indicated that it had been a few times that she had told him about it,” Clark testified.
Copney remains free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, [email protected] or via Twitter .