WARREN - A day after her live-in boyfriend was indicted in the death of her 4-year-old son, Jennifer Light of Bazetta was arrested on a seven-count secret indictment for what investigators say was her role in the murder, including a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Light, 33, of North Park Avenue Extension, pleaded not guilty and was being held in lieu of a $250,000 bond pending a pre-trial July 9 in front of Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan. She also faces charges of permitting child abuse, child endangering and four counts of obstructing justice.
Light was arrested by several officers late Tuesday morning after she went to the courthouse to claim a $6 witness fee that was owed since she appeared before a grand jury last week to apparently testify against her live-in boyfriend, Scott Henry Walker, 33, who formerly lived on Shaffer Road in Champion. The couple lived together at the Bazetta home with the victim, Charles Nicholas Partin, and other family members.
Walker pleaded not guilty earlier Tuesday morning to charges of murder, child endangering and felonious assault. He too appears before Logan July 9 and is being held on $500,000 bond. Walker faces a maximum of life in prison.
Light could face more than 20 years if convicted on the charges, including the child endangering that alleges she ''recklessly created a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support and this violation resulted in serious physical harm.''
The permitting child abuse charge - a first-degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years - accuses Light of ''causing serious physical harm to the child, or death of the child, as a proximate result of permitting the child to be abused, to be tortured, to be administered corporal punishment, or other physical punishment, or other physical disciplinary measure, or to be physically restrained in a cruel manner or for a prolonged period.''
An affidavit filed in the case claims Walker fatally punched the youngster in the stomach the night of June 14.
Bazetta police and firefighters were called to the home at 2910 N. Park Extension at 3:15 a.m. June 15 when family members said the boy wasn't breathing.
Partin died later that day at Trumbull Memorial Hospital. The Trumbull County Coroner's Office ruled the death a homicide by blunt force trauma to the abdomen. Bazetta Detective Joe Sofchek said he photographed a tear-shaped bruise on Nicholas' stomach near his belly button.
Light first told authorities that her son had been treated at a Warren hospital for drinking carpet cleaner. The mother later recanted on that account after Sofchek confirmed the boy had not been treated at a Warren hospital. Light then told detectives she saw Walker punch her son on Friday.
Although Walker denied striking Nicholas with a closed fist, he subsequently demonstrated for detectives how he struck the child with a backhanded blow, Sofchek said. The detective said he noticed a bruised and swollen knuckle on the back of Walker's right hand.
Assistant county prosecutor Diane Barber said the obstructing charges against Light stem from her misleading authorities at first about her son drinking carpet cleaner. She said different accounts that weren't true told to different detectives can each be considered separate counts.
Light's 8-year-old son, Christopher, has since been removed from the home by Children Services.