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December 18, 2014 - 11:09pm

Video: This morning's press conference on death of Baby Chandler

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Baby Chandler.

The press conference was 13 minutes long. To upload it to YouTube, I had to trim it to less than 10 minutes. I tried to cut portions that seemed redundant or not particularly relevant.

Recap: Jeffrey L. Deats, 28, of 10 Olyn Ave., Batavia, is charged with manslaughter, 2nd. Deats appears to have believed he was the father of 6-month-old Chandler Zuch. Baby Chandler was on an overnight visitation with Deats when he was found unresponsive on the living room couch of the Deats home Sunday morning. He was later pronounced dead at UMMC. This afternoon, Michael Senay was identified as Chandler's biological father. Baby Chandler suffered brain injuries, which appear to be the cause of death. Deats is being held in the Genesee County Jail on $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. He is scheduled for a felony hearing Dec. 24.

From the press conference, key statements by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman:

  • "The question is, was this death caused by what is commonly known as 'shaken baby syndrome'? The key part of that question is the use of the term, 'commonly known.' What I would say is that neither medically nor legally do we use that term.  I recognize that it is commonly known as that, and that may be a layman's term for what occured here, but it's not a term that we would use."
  • "Why not murder? Well, generally, murder involves intentionally causing the death of another person. Generally speaking, that's the most common basis for a murder charge and that is not what is supported by the evidence we currently have."
  • Regardine timeline on the morning of Chandler's death: "Certainly that's a factor as to the cause of the death, the time the injuries may have been inflicted and the time it was reported."
  • "The question was asked before, are we talking about eyewitnesses or people who had information. Witnesses are obviously not just inclusive of people who saw a crime being committed. There can be witnesses, certainly, to surrounding circumstances. There are a number of people who have been interviewed about this case, certainly, and but that's not the same thing as saying there are people who saw the injuries being caused."
  • "I wouldn't refer to this as negligence, no. To be more clear on what I'm saying is negligence is often a civil term. There's negligence, to criminal negligence, to recklessness, and then up to intent. What we're dealing with here -- as far as the charge of manslaughter in the second degree -- is recklessness."
  • "I don't think we've used the term 'hit' as far as what happened to the child -- injury to the brain, which does not necessarily involve the child being hit."

In our first story last night, we reported that Deats had been arrested at least twice before. Today we received copies of court documents in both of those cases.

On Dec. 5, 2011, Deats was charged with harassment, 2nd. His mother accused him of threatening to kill her and her dog. In connection with this case, he was also accused of violating an order of protection. The criminal contempt charge was a factor today in Judge Robert Balbick setting a high bail for Deats.

On May 29, 2013, Deats allegedly threatened another person. He was accused of displaying "what appeared to be a black pistol in his waistband." He was accused of threatening to shoot the other person. The person said in a statement to police that Deats called him a "chomo" (child molester) and a rapist. There were further words exchanged and insults thrown out. About five or 10 minutes later, Deats reportedly came back and displayed the handle of what looked like a 9mm stuck in his waistband, the man said. He quoted Deats saying, "Do you want me to shoot you? I could shoot you." Then the police showed up and Deats went back to his house. Three witnesses provided statements in the case. Deats was charged with menacing and harassment.

Previous Coverage: 

Peter O'Brien
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