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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 10:01 pm

Glitch causes Pasztor's child services records to disappear

Bob Blake | South Bend Tribune

GOSHEN – Records in the murder case against a 29-year-old Fort Wayne woman accused of smothering her two children appear to have been inadvertently blocked from public view.

The records seemingly vanished from the state’s online case management system after Elkhart County Circuit Judge Michael Christofeno ordered all records temporarily sealed in the case against Amber Pasztor pending an April 25 hearing on whether the records should be made public again or remain sealed.

Public defenders Clifford Williams and Peter Soldato, representing Pasztor, requested the records be sealed, arguing that many of the Child Protective Services records released last month detailing Pasztor’s prior contact with the agency and contact with police in the time after the children were found dead should have remained private.

After Christofeno’s order, the case vanished from Odyssey, the online database that provides public access to case information, including future court appearances.

Stephen Key, executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association, said he reached out to officials at the Indiana Supreme Court for clarification on what happened to the records to find out if it was a technical glitch that removed the records or it was the intent of the judge.

"I reached out to Mary Willis, the chief administrative officer for the Indiana Supreme Court," Key said. "She assured me it was not the judge’s intent to block access to the case. The general consensus is there wasn’t any intent by the judge or anyone else for that matter to make the case disappear."

Key said information technology specialists at the Indiana Supreme Court are working to fix the glitch, though it is unlikely it will be corrected before Pasztor’s hearing on whether the records will remain sealed next month.

"They are trying to fix things so this doesn’t happen again in this case or any others," Key said.

A spokeswoman from the Supreme Court could not be reached for comment on the issue Tuesday.

Pasztor remains incarcerated in the Elkhart County Jail pending further proceedings.

She stands accused of smothering her two children, 7-year-old Liliana Hernandez and 6-year-old Rene Pasztor, in September after abducting them from their grandparents’ house in Allen County.

She flagged down an officer behind the Elkhart Police Department on Sept. 26 who found the children’s bodies in the vehicle.

A trial on the murder charges remains on hold as Christofeno has ordered a third mental health evaluation for Pasztor to determine if she is fit to stand trial.