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South Greensburg woman accused of neglecting infant, assaulting officer, doctor

November 30, 2018

A 29-year-old South Greensburg woman was jailed on $50,000 bond after allegedly assaulting a borough police officer during a welfare check and later striking an emergency room doctor at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg.

Jessica L. Morelli, 29, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault and single counts of child endangerment, simple assault, harassment, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest after the incident that began about 3 p.m. Saturday at her Elm Street apartment. Charges were filed by police in South Greensburg and Greensburg.

Borough Officer Steven Zemba reported in an affidavit of probable cause that he was summoned to Morelli’s residence after neighbors reported she was acting erratically.

According to court documents, when Zemba arrived, Morelli was leaning against her front screen door and refused to respond to his inquiries. He said he heard a baby crying inside the apartment and “could detect a very strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from inside the residence.”

“The odor (of marijuana) was so strong that it gave this officer a headache,” Zemba said.

As he approached, Zemba reported Morelli continued ignoring verbal inquiries. He said he saw through a window a 3-month-old infant “face up and caught in the crease of the couch and crying.”

“The whole time Morelli was bent over at the waist and would not stand up,” Zemba wrote.

Zemba said when Morelli finally spoke, she told him she was returning inside the residence. He said she began scuffling with him as he approached and attempted to grab his pepper spray.

When police entered the apartment, Zemba said they checked the infant, whose lips “were dry and cracked” and he appeared dehydrated. He said hospital officials reported the infant appeared to have not been bathed.

At the hospital, Greensburg Patrolman William Newmyer alleges Morelli attacked and punched an attending doctor.

“Morelli was secured in bed restraints and monitored by hospital staff until she was released,” Newmyer wrote.

Police said the infant was placed in the custody of Westmoreland County Children and Youth Services by court order.

Zemba said officers confiscated a sandwich bag from Morelli’s residence containing suspected synthetic marijuana.

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