The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, December 05, 2018 10:46 am

Additional neglect charges filed in death of 2-year-old

Matthew LeBlanc | The Journal Gazette

Prosecutors have filed more serious charges against a New Haven mother and her boyfriend in the January death of the woman's 2-year-old daughter.

Crystal Belcher, 29, and Shane Patton, 31, each were charged in April with two counts of felony neglect punishable by up to 18 1/2 years in prison. Prosecutors last week filed an additional felony neglect charge for Belcher and Patton that carries a penalty of up to 40 additional years behind bars if they are convicted.

Jocelyn "JoJo" Belcher was found dead Jan. 27 in the family's home. Investigators said she was stiff, wrapped tight with a blanket and cold to the touch, according to court documents.

An autopsy revealed a hemorrhage in the toddler's neck, and the Allen County coroner said the cause of death was neck compression. The girl also had injuries -- such as forearm fractures that had healed -- that were consistent with abuse, court documents allege.

Motions filed in Allen Superior Court by deputy prosecutors Patricia Pikel and Brent Ecenbarger to add the upgraded felony count to Belcher's and Patton's cases indicate "the facts support a count of neglect of a dependent, a Level 1 felony." The documents do not specify whether new evidence led to filing the additional charge or why it was filed months after Belcher and Patton were first charged.

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