Child abuse case heading toward its end

LEWISTOWN – A two-day jury trial scheduled to start on Monday for a man charged with physically abusing an 11-month old boy was called off at the last minute.

Defense attorney Matt McClenahen and Assistant District Attorney Mark Remy worked out a plea agreement Monday morning, whereby Robert E. Grove, 30, would plead guilty to one felony count of endangering the welfare of a child.

The remaining charges, including aggravated assault, were withdrawn under the agreement.

Judge Rick Williams ordered a pre-sentence investigation to determine the sentencing guidelines for Grove’s case.

Remy said there has been no agreement as to what Grove’s sentence will be.

After court proceedings ended on Monday, McClenahen said he felt it would have been difficult to convict his client on the aggravated assault charge; however, it is much easier to prove a charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

McClenahen said the defense’s theory had always been the co-defendant, Brittany L. Marshall, 22, was responsible for the abuse.

Marshall’s attorney, John McCullough, said he expects his client will enter a similar plea at a court date in the near future.

McClenahen had filed a motion earlier this year which mapped out an alibi defense for his client.

McClenahen asserted that the last of the injuries sustained by the infant, a skull fracture, occurred during a time period when his client was not around and Marshall was the only adult with the children.

In addition, McClenahen asserted the other injuries to the infant, which are alleged to have occurred at various stages throughout his young life, happened when his client was not with the child.

According to court documents, police responded to the emergency room at Lewistown Hospital on July 4, 2012, for an alleged child abuse case. The 11-month-old was subsequently transferred to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, police said.

According to court documents, police were advised by a doctor at Geisinger that the infant sustained his injuries as the result of abuse. Police were told the infant had skull fractures, and three old healing fractures around his collar bone, shoulder blade and shin, as well as a bite mark caused by an adult. The doctor also told police it appeared the infant had been struck with a rectangular object on some parts of his body.

All told, the doctor documented 41 bruises on the infant, police said.

Both Grove and Marshall deny hurting the 11-month-old boy, according to court documents.

Marshall and Grove both remain free on bail and are expected to appear in court in August.