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Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 8:16 am

Driver flees after head-on accident on Prospect Avenue

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, crime

These two vehicles were involved in an overnight accident on Prospect Avenue, Batavia, according to the reader who provided the pictures. The white Honda Civic was parked and the red Mercedes struck the car head-on. The driver fled. At the time the photos were sent to us early this morning, the driver was still at large. We've been unable so far this morning to obtain additional information.

UPDATE: Police say officers have yet to make contact with the driver; however, police believe they know who the driver was and charges are pending.

Monday, December 22, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Jeffrey Deats now in stable condition at ECMC

post by Howard B. Owens in baby, Baby Chandler, crime
Jeffrey Deats

Jeffrey L. Deats, the 28-year-old man charged with manslaughter in the death eight days ago of Chandler Zuchs, is now listed in stable condition following an apparent suicide attempt last night at the Genesee County Jail.

This morning Deats was listed in critical condition.

Baby Chandler died at age 6 months. The Monroe County Medical Examiner reported that Chandler suffered brain injuries.

Deats was arrested Wednesday following a police investigation into the death.  

He was jailed on $50,000 cash bail or $100,000.

Deats was reportedly found hanging from bedsheets in his cell shortly after midnight. A corrections officer performed CPR and Deats was transported by Mercy EMS to UMMC before being transferred to ECMC.

For previous coverage of the case, click here.

Monday, December 22, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Man convicted of firing handgun on State Street given eight years in prison

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Dashawn Butler

After denying a defense motion for a new trial, Judge Robert C. Noonan today sentenced Dashawn Butler to eight years in prison.

Accused of firing a handgun at another person Sept. 27, 2013, on State Street, Butler was convicted Nov. 22 following a jury trial of criminal use of a firearm, 2nd, criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd, and attempted assault, 1st.

On a motion by Defense Attorney Thomas Burns, Noonan reduced the second count to criminal possession of a weapon, 4th.

Burns argued during the trial and in written motions that the charges should be dismissed and the verdict overturned based on his contention that the prosecution failed to produce significant evidence of a weapon being used.

There was no physical evidence in the case, Burns said. 

"In this case there simply is no physical or forensic evidence that the firearm my client is alleged to have possessed was loaded, if it had ammunition, and if it did, if the ammunition was capable of being ignited and propelled, and that the firearm itself was operable," Burns said.

While Burns characterized witness testimony as that of a "layperson's" account, Noonan, in his written decision and order, gave substantial credence to the testimony.

"Although the weapon in question was never recovered," Noonan wrote, "the victim's testimony that the defendant shot at him three times such that he could actually see the fire coming out of the barrel of the gun, together with other eyewitness testimony as to the defendant's possession of a small black revolver which he pulled out and shot at victim repeatedly before the gun jammed, as well as the defendant's subsequent possession of the same weapon and statements to the effect that the victim was not hit and the gun jammed either because the bullets were too big or blanks, provides sufficient, circumstantial evidence that the gun possessed by the defendant was operable immediately prior to jamming."

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman asked Noonan to send Butler to prison for a long stretch.

"Based on his criminal history and his conduct this case, involving firing a loaded handgun, not only at another person, but while other people were in the area, and based on this defendant's intimidation of a witness, which was laid out for the court in great detail, we're asking for the maximum sentence," Friedman said.

Burns suggest a minimum sentence would be more appropriate.

"My client is a young man who has children and does not have an extensive hard criminal history," Burns said. "Given the wide range of sentencing options available to the court, a minimum, determinate sentence would be appropriate."

Noonan said it was an unusual case and an unusual trial, but the conviction was serious enough to warrant the maximum sentence.

Monday, December 22, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Bang heard on Summit was part of police raid to search house

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A residence on Summit Street was raided by Batavia's Emergency Response Team shortly before 4 p.m. to search for the fruits of alleged thefts in Albion.

The ERT was called in, Assistant Chief Rob Yaeger said, because there were reports that weapons were being sold out of the residence.

Yaeger didn't say what was recovered or who was detained because it's an Albion PD case.

A flash-bang device was used to help create a distraction, which caused at least one neighboring resident to report "shots fired" on Summit Street.  

The operation was undertaken to execute a search warrant and Yaeger said the search was fruitful.

Further details when they become available.

UPDATE: Press release from Albion PD:

The Albion Police Department has made an arrest in relation to the ongoing investigation regarding the larcenies and burglaries that have occurred over the past several weeks in the Northeast side of the Village of Albion.

Search Warrants were executed at two locations in the Village of Albion on Saturday (12-20-14) and one search warrant was executed today (12-22-14) at a location in the City of Batavia.

A large quantity of stolen property was recovered as a result of the search warrants and additional persons of interest have been identified.

The case is ongoing with additional arrests expected. The names of those arrested, wanted or other persons of interest are not being released at this time. A more complete press release will be done when the investigation is closer to being completed.

The Albion Police are asking anyone who may have had items stolen, regardless if they have filed a Police Report, to contact the Albion Police Department at 585-589-5627 to identify and recover their stolen property.

The Albion Police were assisted by the Batavia Police Department, Batavia Police Emergency Response Team and the Genesee County Drug Task Force.

Anyone with information regarding the crimes is asked to call the Albion Police Department at 585-589-5627.

Photo: Ellsworth Avenue as the incident was wrapping up.

Monday, December 22, 2014 at 7:46 am

Suspect in baby death case reportedly attempts suicide in jail

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Baby Chandler, crime
Jeffrey Deats

Jeffrey L. Deats, the 28-year-old Batavia resident held on a manslaughter charge in the death of Baby Chandler Zuchs, reportedly attempted suicide overnight.

Sheriff Gary Maha said Deats was found in his cell at 11:55 p.m. He had tried to use a bedsheet to hang himself.

A corrections officer performed CPR. Deats was transported to UMMC and later transferred to ECMC, where he is listed in critical condition.

"I cannot comment on his medical condition due to confidentially issues, but he is still alive," Maha said.

A corrections officer had made a routine check of his cell nine minutes prior to Deats being found during the suicide attempt.

Deats was arrested Wednesday on a charge of manslaughter, 2nd.  

Six-month-old Chandler Zuchs, whom at the time Deats apparently believed was his son, was on an overnight visit the weekend before at the Olyn Avenue home of Deats when the child died.

Baby Chandler suffered brain injuries, according to a Medical Examiner's report, authorities said.

Following the arrest of Deats, a DNA report surfaced that showed another man, not Deats, was the biological father of Baby Chandler.

Previously: 

Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Video: This morning's press conference on death of Baby Chandler

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Baby Chandler, crime

The press conference was 13 minutes long. To upload it to YouTube, I had to trim it to less than 10 minutes. I tried to cut portions that seemed redundant or not particularly relevant.

Recap: Jeffrey L. Deats, 28, of 10 Olyn Ave., Batavia, is charged with manslaughter, 2nd. Deats appears to have believed he was the father of 6-month-old Chandler Zuch. Baby Chandler was on an overnight visitation with Deats when he was found unresponsive on the living room couch of the Deats home Sunday morning. He was later pronounced dead at UMMC. This afternoon, Michael Senay was identified as Chandler's biological father. Baby Chandler suffered brain injuries, which appear to be the cause of death. Deats is being held in the Genesee County Jail on $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. He is scheduled for a felony hearing Dec. 24.

From the press conference, key statements by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman:

  • "The question is, was this death caused by what is commonly known as 'shaken baby syndrome'? The key part of that question is the use of the term, 'commonly known.' What I would say is that neither medically nor legally do we use that term.  I recognize that it is commonly known as that, and that may be a layman's term for what occured here, but it's not a term that we would use."
  • "Why not murder? Well, generally, murder involves intentionally causing the death of another person. Generally speaking, that's the most common basis for a murder charge and that is not what is supported by the evidence we currently have."
  • Regardine timeline on the morning of Chandler's death: "Certainly that's a factor as to the cause of the death, the time the injuries may have been inflicted and the time it was reported."
  • "The question was asked before, are we talking about eyewitnesses or people who had information. Witnesses are obviously not just inclusive of people who saw a crime being committed. There can be witnesses, certainly, to surrounding circumstances. There are a number of people who have been interviewed about this case, certainly, and but that's not the same thing as saying there are people who saw the injuries being caused."
  • "I wouldn't refer to this as negligence, no. To be more clear on what I'm saying is negligence is often a civil term. There's negligence, to criminal negligence, to recklessness, and then up to intent. What we're dealing with here -- as far as the charge of manslaughter in the second degree -- is recklessness."
  • "I don't think we've used the term 'hit' as far as what happened to the child -- injury to the brain, which does not necessarily involve the child being hit."

In our first story last night, we reported that Deats had been arrested at least twice before. Today we received copies of court documents in both of those cases.

On Dec. 5, 2011, Deats was charged with harassment, 2nd. His mother accused him of threatening to kill her and her dog. In connection with this case, he was also accused of violating an order of protection. The criminal contempt charge was a factor today in Judge Robert Balbick setting a high bail for Deats.

On May 29, 2013, Deats allegedly threatened another person. He was accused of displaying "what appeared to be a black pistol in his waistband." He was accused of threatening to shoot the other person. The person said in a statement to police that Deats called him a "chomo" (child molester) and a rapist. There were further words exchanged and insults thrown out. About five or 10 minutes later, Deats reportedly came back and displayed the handle of what looked like a 9mm stuck in his waistband, the man said. He quoted Deats saying, "Do you want me to shoot you? I could shoot you." Then the police showed up and Deats went back to his house. Three witnesses provided statements in the case. Deats was charged with menacing and harassment.

Previous Coverage: 

Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Man held in Baby Chandler case is not the father

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Baby Chandler, crime

It turns out the the man being held in the death of a 6-month-old boy is not the baby's father.

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch confirmed minutes ago that Michael Senay is the father of Chandler Zuch.

A relative of Senay's provided The Batavian with a copy of a DNA test from the DNA Diagnostic Center in Erie County dated Dec. 8 that says Senay is the father with 99.99 percent probability.

Senay posted on Facebook this afternoon a statement that he was the father.

So far, he has declined interview requests.

Jeffrey Deats had Baby Chandler for an overnight visit this past weekend and according to his statement to police, he believed he was the father of the baby.

In the statement he said the mother, Michelle Zuch, alternately told him he was the father and not the father over a period of time, and eventually told him that she had the results back of a DNA test and that he, Deats, was the father. Deats, based on his statement, seemed to accept her claim and believed he was the father of Chandler.

Deats is being held on $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond on a charge of manslaughter, 2nd.

A preliminary hearing, known as a felony hearing, is scheduled for Dec. 24.

This morning at a press conference District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said there was no proof at this time that Deats intended harm or death, which is why Deats is charged with manslaughter, which presumes recklessness in the death of another person.

Senay, according to his Facebook page, lives in Orleans County and attended Pembroke High School.

UPDATE: The District Attorney's Office has issued the following statement;

"We have been informed that Paternity Test results were received today, establishing that Jeffrey Deats was not the father of the baby, Chandler Zuch. This has no effect on the legal proceedings."

Previously:

Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 11:07 am

Baby Chandler suffered head trauma, authorities say

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Baby Chandler, crime

Baby Chandler, the 6-month-old who died Sunday while in his father's care, suffered multiple brain injuries, causing his death, according to local law enforcement officials.

Jeffrey L. Deats, 27, of Olyn Avenue, Batavia, has been charged with manslaughter in the second degree and is currently being held in the Genesee County Jail.

In a press conference this morning, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said the charge stems from the belief that Deats acted recklessly and with disregard for the possible harm of his actions. He said at this time there's no evidence to indicate that Deats intended to cause harm or death to Chandler.

Batavia PD Chief Shawn Heubusch said the preliminary report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office indicates brain injuries.

The baby is undergoing a full skeletal, neurological and dental exam at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

According to court documents, Deats made a long statement to police about his relationship with Chandler's mother and his time with Chandler, including during this past weekend. 

He later made a second statement and told a detective that he had "not told the entire truth."

He said, "I remember that around 9 or 9:30 p.m., I was walking down the stairs with Chandler in my arms and I was wearing flip-flops. As I started to go down the stairs, my foot slipped and I began to fall. When I fell, the back of my head hit the stairs really hard. When I got to the last three steps, I rolled and I tried to protect Chandler. As we were falling, Chandler's head was going back and forth really bad. At no times did I tell my mother what happened. I think she was in her room sleeping, but I'm not sure. I did not want to tell anyone that I had messed up because they would think bad of me."

In a statement to police, the baby's grandmother, 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 god damn bastard,' and he turned around and went upstairs."

She went on, "when I looked at the baby, I knew something was wrong. He was breathing very slow, shallow and labored breaths. I was praying that he was going to be okay."

She said first that she didn't call for help because she was afraid what Jeff would do. That statement is scratched out and she said she was hoping the baby would calm down. 

"I picked Chandler up and when I touched his hands and feet, they were cold. I tried to warm them up and I said, 'please warm up,'" she said. "I was just praying he would be okay. I laid Chandler back on the couch. Chandler did not move for the entire time he was on the couch. He also had his eyes closed the entire time."

She said she called up to Jeff at 8:30 a.m. and Jeff told her to wake him up at 9:30 a.m.

When Jeff came down at 9:30, they noticed Chandler wasn't breathing, she said. Jeff apparently tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and Jacquelyn called 9-1-1. 

"Before I left for the hospital, Jeff told me, 'you need to tell everyone that you were with me the entire time,' " she said. 

In a second statement, Jacquelyn Deats said he had no knowledge of Chandler being dropped or anybody slipping and falling while holding him or of anybody falling down the stairs.

She also said in the same statement that Jeff came downstairs about 6:05 a.m., "and I heard him 'thump' down the stairs."

"When he came downstairs he was out of breath and disheveled," she wrote. "I think it is possible that he might have fallen then. Chandler was all disheveled and his shirt was up to about the middle of his torso and there were red marks on his stomach that looked like it was from Jeff holding him really tight. If anybody had fallen down the stairs any other time, I would have heard it."

The mother of Chandler is identified as Michelle Zuch. In his statement, Jeff Deats said he met Zuch through Facebook. 

They first time they met in person, they went to the sandwash off Cedar Street.

Three weeks later, Deats said she texted him and said they needed to talk. She came to Batavia and told him she was pregnant. 

"We fought every day over the phone," Deats said. "Michelle would tell me that it was my child, then say it wasn't. This went on until just recently."

He said after DNA testing, Zuch told him he was the father. 

Sometime later, Zuch brought Chandler to Batavia for a visit with Deats. 

"After a while, I started having Chandler on Sundays," Deats said. "Chandler was around four months old when this started happening. I would bring him back on Sunday night and Michelle would say I wasn't going to see him anymore. Michelle would not say why. She would just call me a deadbeat father."

He said before this last visit, Michelle tried to back out of letting Chandler visit on Sunday, then after further conversation she said, "why don't you just take him for an overnight," Deats said.

Deats and his mother picked him up Saturday around 9 a.m., Saturday, according to the statement. 

"Chandler looked perfectly fine when I picked him up," he said. "There may have been a little bruise on his left or right thumb, but I'm not sure."

When they stopped for gas in Pembroke, Deats said he was in the back seat with Chandler watching him play with a toy.

"It was orange and made of hard plastic," he said. "The toy swung around and bashed him the mouth. Chandler started crying, but I was able to calm him down. I looked and saw that his lower tooth was missing and his mouth was bleeding. I looked for the tooth in the car, but I could not find it."

He said he called Zuch and Zuch wanted the baby returned immediately.  

"I told her he would be fine at my house," he said.

Twenty minutes after getting home, Zuch showed up at the house and so did the police.

The police entered the house, checked out Chandler, he said, and after a brief interview, Deats said they told him they didn't see anything wrong.

He told police that Zuch was welcome to stay and make sure the child was fine, and Zuch did stay and visit for a while, he said.

He and Zuch went to Dunkin' Donuts with two friends.

Later, at home, Zuch visited longer. Then Deats said he gave Chandler a bath and the baby seemed fine. He put new clothes on him and they "just hung out the rest of the day."

Zuch left around 1 p.m.

His mother started watching Chandler around 3:45 p.m. while Deats went upstairs with a friend. He left for work at 8:20 p.m.

"When I got home, mom was on the couch with the dog watching TV," Deats said. "I took a picture of Chandler and sent it to Michelle. Michelle had been blowing up my phone asking for a picture, that's why I did it."

He said he checked Chandler's diaper and it was fine, and then he made him a bottle. 

"I brought him upstairs with his bouncy chair," he said. "Michelle had told me that he doesn't fall asleep in people's arms or in the bed, so I put him in his bouncy chair. I could tell he was tired because he was throwing his little tired whine. I picked him up and he fell asleep in his (sic) arms."

He said Chandler woke a little when he laid him down, then went back to sleep in five minutes. 

His mother then went upstairs to watch Chandler and Deats left the house with a friend. He returned about 20 minutes later and found Chandler still asleep upstairs. 

He and a friend watched the Heisman Trophy presentation and then a documentary on U2.

Shortly after that, Chandler woke up. 

"Chandler was making fussing noises," Deats said. "He then started to cry. I picked him up and sat him on my left knee about five minutes. He was still fussing so I put him in my arms and tried giving him a bottle. He was till fussing and pushing it away. I then put him back in his bouncy chair, facing the TV. He seemed fine then. I would rock the chair with my hand or sometimes my foot."

His friend left about 2 a.m.

"Chandler would fuss every time it went to commercial or when I would stop rocking him."

He tried giving Chandler a bottle, but Chandler spit it up four or five times. 

He changed Chandler's clothes and his own clothes, he said. 

For the next few hours, Deats said Chandler was in and out of his bouncy chair and fussing on and off.

After his mom got up, he said he brought Chandler downstairs and laid him on the couch. He said he asked his mom to watch him for a couple of hours so he could get some sleep. 

"He was rubbing his head and yawning and making little talking noises," Deats said. "I tucked him in, putting his two comfort blankets around him. I made sure he was OK and then I went upstairs and went to bed."

He said he came downstairs again at 9:40 a.m.

"Michelle was blowing up my phone again," Deats said. I told her I was gonna send her a picture, shower and then give Chandler a bath, then call her. 

"I walked downstairs and took a quick picture of Chandler. When I first laid Chandler down, his head was facing towards my mom's bedroom. When I came down, his feet were kinda pointing towards my mom's bedroom and his head was more towards the back cushions. My mom was in the kitchen. As soon as I took the photo, and as I hit send, I realized that he was passed. I just had that feeling in me.

"I pulled the blanket off and put my hand on his belly to see if it was cold I felt that he was warm. I said to my mom that I think he passed away. I said that 'we are f--ked, Michelle's gonna kill us.'

"I picked up Chandler and his arms were limp and his head fell backwards. I just held him really tight in my arms then brought him to my mom's bed and layed him down. I tried doing CPR. My mom called the ambulance. My mom was a wreck when I told her I thought Chandler was passed."

UPDATE: Authorities now believe Deats is not Chandler's father.

First reported on The BatavianFather in custody in case of infant's death in Batavia

Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 7:58 am

Batavia man accused of selling morphine

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Anthony Spearance

A Batavia resident has been arrested, accused of selling morphine to undercover agents.

Anthony J. Spearance, 29, of Washington Avenue, is charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd. 

It's alleged that Spearance sold morphine to an agent of the Local Drug Task Force. He was arrested on a sealed indictment Tuesday.

Spearance was ordered held without bail.

Also arrested Tuesday was Jacob W. Patterson, 18, of Killian Road, Pembroke.

He is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument.

Task Force members allegedly found him in possession of heroin and a needle in March 2014. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 1:01 am

Father in custody in case of infant's death in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Baby Chandler, crime

A Batavia man is in the Genesee County Jail tonight, charged with manslaughter in the second degree in connection with the death this weekend of an infant, according to local law enforcement sources.

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch has scheduled a 10 a.m. press conference to discuss the case, but has not replied to e-mails tonight seeking comment on the arrest of Jeffrey L. Deats, 28, of Olyn Avenue, Batavia.

A corrections officer did confirm that Deats is in custody, but declined to answer further questions about his status.

According to friends of Deats, Deats is the father of 6-month-old Chandler, whom police reported two days ago was found unresponsive Sunday morning at a residence on Olyn Avenue.

Chandler was later pronounced dead at UMMC. An autopsy was performed Monday by the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office, but those results have not yet been released.

Deats has two prior arrests where he was charged with harassment after being accused of making threats to other people.

On Tuesday, he tweeted:

@Jaguars yesterday I lost my lil dude in his sleep he was a young jags fan play hard for him this Sunday #RIPchan 

Friends have left several messages of support, and messages defending Deats, on his Facebook wall.

On both Facebook and Twitter, he has frequnetly posted pictures of Chandler and one friend wrote shortly after news of Chandler's death became public:

Jeff Deats loves Chandler. I don't care what anyone says, he would never do anything to HIS own son. 

Until Batavia PD releases more information at the press conference, we won't know the reason investigators decided to charge Deats in Chandler's death.

There is a charitable fund set up to assist Chandler's mother, Michelle Zuch, of Tonawanda, called Memory of Chandler.

UPDATE: Authorities now believe Deats is not Chandler's father.

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