Mother Accused of Abusing Infant Held for Court After Testimonies Presented by Pediatric Doctor, CYS Crisis Investigation Specialist
FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – Felony charges against a Franklin mother were held for court on Thursday regarding a case in which multiple physical injuries to her three-week-old child were reportedly discovered at a Pittsburgh area hospital. Charges against the child’s father were dismissed.
(Photo: Emily Layman walks out of court on Thursday, July 28. Captured by Jacob Deemer/EYT.)
The following charges were ordered held for court against 22-year-old Emily Allyssa Layman during a preliminary hearing in front of District Judge Matthew T. Kirtland on Thursday, July 28:
– Endangering Welfare of Children – Parent/Guardian/Other Commits Offense, Felony 1 (two counts)
– Simple Assault, Misdemeanor 1 (two counts)
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2 (two counts)
The same counts were filed against 22-year-old Cain Christopher Layman; however, all charges against him were withdrawn on Thursday, July 28.
The charges stem from a series of events in November of 2021:
– November 21, 2021: Victim child is seen at UPMC Northwest Emergency Room; child is referred to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for further testing.
– November 22, 2021: Child is seen at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
– November 23, 2021: CYS 104 Form is filed; Child discharged from home and placed under supervision of another individual.
Two Witnesses Testify for Prosecution
Testimony centered on two witnesses brought forward by Assistant District Attorney Justin Fleeger who is prosecuting the case on behalf of District Attorney Shawn White.
Dr. Valente Testifies on Medical Findings Regarding Possible Abuse
The first witness, Dr. Matthew Valente, MD, gave expert testimony on the medical findings regarding the possible abuse of the three-week-old child. Dr. Valente, a pediatric doctor at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and member of the National Children’s Advocacy Center, described how the injuries were found on the child through multiple X-rays and MRIs.
Dr. Valente was originally slated to testify via Zoom, but technical difficulties led to him testifying over speaker phone for a little under two hours. He told the court of his lengthy history involving suspected child abuse cases and related that the injuries found on Layman’s child were “diagnostic of physical abuse” beyond a reasonable degree of certainty.
Dr. Valente stated he was consulted after emergency room providers discovered bruises on the child on November 21, 2021. Along with bruising, Dr. Valente discovered multiple fractures in the child’s femur bone.
“At that time, my initial concern was that the bruising was concern for physical abuse,” Dr. Valente explained.
An initial skeletal survey showed possible femur fractures and an abnormal shape of the femur bone.
A second skeletal survey was conducted on December 7, 2021. The survey showed progressively healing rib fractures, as well as multiple “concerns of fractures.”
“These are fractures most commonly seen in physical abuse,” Dr. Valente noted.
He related that the additional fractures were unable to be seen on the initial scan due to many factors, including the size of both the bone and the fracture.
In addition, Dr. Valente related that Emily Layman was advised against co-sleeping with the child, but she continued. The risks of co-sleeping are asphyxiation and other related issues that could occur throughout the night. Against the advice of medical professionals, Layman did this on multiple occasions, he said.
Dr. Valente also indicated that he believed the child received no new fractures after being displaced by Children & Youth Services.
A motion to discuss the factor of a possible case of postpartum depression was denied by Judge Kirtland.
Defense Challenges Dr. Valente on Lack of Knowledge of Ehlers–Danlos Syndrome
The defense in the case, represented by John C. Lackatos, PC, challenged Dr. Valente on many topics during cross-examination, including his lack of knowledge concerning blood disorders that the parents and other expert witnesses claim the child has.
“So, you don’t hold yourself out as an expert of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome,” Lackatos asked Dr. Valente.
“I do not,” Dr. Valente responded. “My private interpretation of EDS is what another general pediatrician would know.”
Lackatos also questioned Dr. Valente if he had any expertise in regards to radiology, bleeding disorders in children, and genetics–all of which Dr. Valente stated he did not.
ADA Fleeger reminded the court on multiple occasions that many of the reports and diagnoses read by Dr. Valente were conducted by other providers, and that it was Dr. Valente’s “expert interpretation” of those reports.
Venango County CYS Crisis Investigation Specialist Charles Albaugh Testifies on Suspected Child Abuse Against Laymans
The second witness brought forth by the prosecution was Charles Albaugh, a Crisis Investigation Specialist for Venango County Children & Youth Services.
Albaugh, who was initially assigned to the Layman case, testified of his dealings with both Emily Layman and Cain Layman in the early stages of the investigation. Albaugh’s report of suspected child abuse (CYS 104 Form) was entered as evidence by the prosecution, and his testimony revolved around that report.
Albaugh recited the content of a phone call initiated by Emily Layman in December, in which she was inquiring about the status of her case.
“I had asked (Emily Layman) if there was anyone else alone with the child in a primary caregiver’s role,” Albaugh said. “She told me ‘no.’ I also did inform her, basically, that the complaint was saying it was, basically, 100 percent abuse at that time.”
Albaugh continued to tell the court that the report was filed on November 23, 2021, and the children were “immediately discharged” from the home and placed in the care of another person. To Albaugh’s knowledge, the child did not suffer any injuries after being removed from the home.
Albaugh was on the stand for approximately 13 minutes.
Defense Attorney John Lackatos and ADA Fleeger Present Their Cases to the Court
When asked if the defense would like to make an argument against the charges as filed, Lackatos said there was “no evidence produced that the SBI (serious bodily injury) component was proven.”
Lackatos went on to argue that there was no testimony provided that proved there was intent to commit SBI against the child, and likewise, there is no evidence that the injuries risked death, nor did the defendant commit reckless acts that led to the injuries.
In response, ADA Fleeger argued that based on both testimonies, and the fact that the child was non-ambulatory and not able to cause these injuries on his own during the time of the incident, it meets the specifications for the charges as filed.
Additionally, ADA Fleeger stated that “with the nature and degree of the fractures, as well as the multitude of bruising which occurred, the Commonwealth is clearly in the position that this is aggravated assault.”
Judge Kirtland Rules Emily Layman to Be Held for Court
After hearing all the evidence, testimonies, and arguments presented by both sides, Judge Kirtland ruled in favor of holding the charges as filed against Emily Layman.
“In addition to viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth is sufficiently established as to the commission of a crime and the accused is the perpetrator of that crime,” Kirtland cited. “Based on the testimony and evidence, as presented, the court finds a prima facie case has been established with regard to the charges that were filed.”
Emily Layman Responds to Judge’s Ruling
Following the hearing, Emily Layman told exploreVenango.com, “I think honestly they’re grasping at straws at this point.
“(The prosecution) has no solid evidence to hold on to. They dropped the charges against (Cain Layman) because they don’t have anything on him, but they’re holding onto stereotypical things.”
Overcome with emotion following the proceedings, the Laymans touched on what lies ahead.
“Well, our attorney is going to be getting us another pediatric radiologist,” Emily explained.
Cain Layman chimed in, “Our case is halfway done. They dropped one of us.
“We’re close, and in a sense, that’s a really good thing that they did at least drop one of us from the case.”
Emily Layman added, “I try to put myself in other people’s shoes, and if I wasn’t directly going through this, I obviously would be skeptical of the defendant.
“I would’ve never thought before this that people could be falsely accused of child abuse, or whatever.”
Calls to ADA Fleeger were not immediately returned.
Details of the case:
The charges stem from an investigation initiated by the Franklin Police Department on November 23, 2021, following a report of suspected child abuse (CYS 104 Form).
According to a criminal complaint filed on May 4, 2022, in Magisterial District Judge Matthew T. Kirtland’s office, the City of Franklin Police Department received a CYS 104 Form on November 23, 2021, regarding a three-week-old child who was at a Pittsburgh hospital with numerous physical injuries that were suspicious in nature.
According to the complaint, the three-week-old child was presented to a Pittsburgh hospital on November 22, 2021, due to vomiting blood. The child was found to allegedly have bruises on the shins and upper back. The affiant–a detective of Franklin Police Department–noted these injuries are concerning for physical abuse due to patterned-injury bruises in a non-mobile child. It was noted that the injuries allegedly caused substantial pain.
The following conditions were allegedly stated: male – extreme fussiness since birth; fussy and vomiting at baseline; fussier and vomiting blood since Saturday, November 20, 2021 (two days). The exam listed the patient as “well…except bruising.” The preliminary read from the x-ray listed possible right rib fracture (healing) and left metaphyseal femur fracture–pending final read and medical workup. Per the parents, the patient was born with bruises. Per the parents, their primary care physician had previously examined the patient for bruises. The bruises on the patient’s back, per the parents, the child’s brother may have thrown a toy, and it hit the child, according to the complaint.
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