An Allen County judge today approved requests by prosecutors for more serious charges against a New Haven mother and her boyfriend in the 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 18 1/2 years in prison. Prosecutors Dec. 3 filed motions to add an additional neglect charge for the pair that carries a penalty of up to 40 additional years behind bars if they are convicted.
Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull granted the motions in court today.
Belcher's attorney, Samuel Bolinger, opposed the request and argued in documents filed Tuesday prosecutors did not present enough evidence to file the new charges.
Defense attorney Ryan Gardner also objected, saying in a hearing that the additional charge for Patton should have been filed earlier.
Jocelyn "JoJo" Belcher was found dead Jan. 27 in the family's home. She was wrapped tight in a blanket, stiff and cold to the touch, police said.
Bolinger withdrew a request to consolidate the trials of Belcher and Patton. He had argued both cases shared similarities including witnesses and evidence and should be heard together.
A motion to reconsider a request to suppress some evidence gathered by investigators after the child's death was also withdrawn.