Jeffrey Deats and Chandler Zuchs
Motions filed in the case of a woman who thought she was the grandmother of a baby who died while in the care of her son seek to have a criminal charge against her dismissed, both because of a lack of evidence and "in the interest of justice."
Jacquelyn P. Deats, Olyn Avenue, Batavia, is charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child under 17 years old.
The charging document asserts, "On December 14, 2014, at about 7:00 a.m., while at 10 Olyn Avenue in the City of Batavia, New York, the Defendant did fail to provide and/or seek medical assistance for Chandler Zuchs dob May 20, 2014, while knowing that Zuck was suffering from serious medical symptoms. All contrary to the provisions of the statements made and provided herein."
There's simply no evidence to support the assertion, argues Attorney Thomas Burns, who is representing Deats.
There's no direct knowledge or witness statements to support the assertion that Deats knew Baby Chandler was suffering from serious medical symptoms at that time and that she had any knowledge that Baby Chandler had been mistreated.
Baby Chandler was in the care of Jeffery Deats, a 28-year-old Batavia man, who believed, based on representations by the baby's mother, Michelle Zuchs, of Tonawanda, that he was the baby's father.
Subsequently, Jeffrey had many visits with Chandler. He posted several pictures of Chandler, and of himself with Chandler to social media sites in the months prior to Chandler's death. The Dec. 13-14 visit was reportedly the first overnight visit.
After Chandler's death from apparent brain injuries, Jeffrey Deats was arrested. A day after news came out that Jeffrey Deats wasn't the baby's father, Jeffrey Deats attempted to take his own life by hanging himself with a bedsheet in his jail cell.
Jeffrey Deats died as a result of his injuries four days later.
In a statement to police about the events of Dec. 14, Jacquelyn Deats, said she heard Chandler crying off and on throughout the night and that she woke up around 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning because she was thinking about going to church.
A half hour later, she said, she heard Chandler crying loudly, like he was screaming.
"I heard Jeff stomping down the stairs and he was calling, 'mom, mom' several times," Jacquelyn Deats said. "He sounded very upset. I said that I was in the bathroom. When I came out, Jeff was holding Chandler so that Chandler's head was on Jeff's shoulder. Jeff said, 'He's been up all night and I need to sleep.' Jeff was really upset. He laid Chandler on the couch and said, 'Now, you go to sleep you goddamn bastard,' and he turned around and went upstairs."
It would be another two-and-half hours before Jacquelyn Deats called for an ambulance, according to statements to police, which were made public when Jeffrey Deats was arrested.
Even if Judge Robert Balbick, the City Court judge who will be asked to rule on the motions, doesn't dismiss the charge for lack of evidence, he should do so "in the interest of justice," Burns argues.
"In the interest of justice" is a well-established motion in the legal system and has a series of criteria that should be met before a judge agrees to dismiss the case.
In order to establish the criteria, Burns argues:
That Jacquelyn Deats has no prior criminal history, has no history of drug or alcohol abuse, no mental health issues and is gainfully employed;
While the death of a baby is a serious criminal matter, there's no evidence Jacquelyn Deats was involved in Baby Chandler's death; "However, the charge as filed seeks to hold the Defendant accountable for her conduct after the injury already occurred to the child." Deats, Burns writes, "neither witnessed nor had knowledge" that the injuries occurred;
The evidence doesn't support an assertion that Jacquelyn Deats caused harm to the child, and even if she had knowledge of a serious injury and did not act, there's no evidence that any action should could have taken would have changed the outcome;
Jacquelyn Deats has suffered significant trauma as a result of these events, from the death of a child at the time she believed to be her grandchild, the death of her own child, and learning that Baby Chandler was not her son's son; "She has endured a substantial amount of stress and hurt and expressed deep regret for the death of the child and the tragic loss of her son Jeffrey";
Because Jacquelyn Deats has no drug or alcohol issues, a conviction is not necessary to effect rehabilitation;
The charge against her is only a misdemeanor, which for a person with no criminal record is not likely to result in any length of jail term;
Jacquelyn Deats is no threat to the community and dismissal would ensure she remains a contributing member of the community;
A conviction would serve no useful purpose; "This case also represents a series of poor choices and lack of judgement on the part of the deceased son of the Defendant, the mother of the deceased child and the Defendant now standing before the court," Burns writes. "There are simply no winners and losers in this case. No conviction will change these horrible facts. However, it is submitted that continued prosecution of Jacquelyn Deats will serve only to add to the layers of tragedy already existing with no legitimate purpose."
The prosecution has not yet filed its answer. Balbick will consider the motions at a later date.