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Mom accused in death claimed she gave CPR

December 20, 2018

Without providing details, the lawyer for a mother charged in the January death of her 2-year-old daughter claimed last month in court documents the death might have been an accident.

The one-page filing said Crystal Belcher “was engaged in lawful conduct” at the time of Jocelyn “JoJo” Belcher’s death and did not act with criminal negligence.

Asked by prosecutors to clarify, defense attorney Samuel Bolinger wrote in documents filed Tuesday in Allen Superior Court that Belcher was helping the child breathe. “The lawful conduct was that of CPR,” he wrote.

JoJo was found dead Jan. 27 inside the East Butler Street home. She was wrapped tight in a blanket, stiff and cold to the touch, police said.

The Allen County coroner said the cause of death was neck compression, and an autopsy revealed a hemorrhage in the girl’s neck. She also had other injuries that were consistent with abuse, according to court documents.

Belcher, 29, and Shane Patton, 31, each were charged in April with two counts of felony neglect punishable by 181/2 years in prison. Prosecutors filed motions Dec. 3 to add an additional neglect charge for the pair that carries a penalty of up to 40 more years.

Superior Court Judge Fran Gull granted the motions in a hearing Wednesday.

Bolinger opposed the request and argued in court documents prosecutors did not provide enough evidence to file the new charges.

No additional evidence shows Belcher knowingly or intentionally put her daughter in a situation that threatened the girl’s health or life, he wrote in an objection.

Defense attorney Ryan Gardner also objected, saying at the hearing that the additional charge for Patton should have been filed earlier.

Bolinger withdrew a request to consolidate the Belcher and Patton cases. He had argued the cases share similarities in evidence and witnesses.

A motion to reconsider a request to suppress some evidence gathered after the child died also was taken back. Belcher claimed she was denied access to an attorney and felt pressured by investigators to sign paperwork allowing them to search her property. Gull denied the request in October, writing that Belcher waived her Miranda rights and voluntarily spoke to police without a lawyer.

Belcher’s four-day trial is set for Jan. 15. Patton’s three-day trial is set for March 5.

mleblanc@jg.net

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