Woman pleads not guilty for assault of an infant

LEWISTOWN — Delilah R. Ritter, 24, of Lewistown, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 15 counts, including seven felony counts of aggravated assault of a minor, said Mifflin County District Attorney Christopher Torquato.

Ritter was charged in March after reportedly securing a pacifier to her 3-month-old child’s mouth with duct tape, as well as shaking and throwing the child, causing bleeding to the infant’s brain, court documents indicate.

Documents state the infant was taken to Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital after the child reportedly stopped breathing and was immediately transported to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Various medical examinations determined the child initially presented with seizures and respiratory arrest, but later found the child’s ear and scalp had sustained recent bruising. An abrasion was also noted on the child’s scalp and the child reportedly had a brain hemorrhage.

Three previous mouth injuries, healing fractures in two ribs and the right wrist, as well as evidence of a failure to thrive were reportedly discovered via medical examinations. Staff at the medical center reported the injuries were consistent with abuse and the child also sustained injuries consistent with being shaken.

Documents state Mifflin County Regional Police Department and Pennsylvania State Police interviewed Ritter and her paramour regarding these injuries. The paramour told police he observed Ritter smack the child hard on the child’s bare backside, causing the child to jolt, and that she would smack the child in this manner when the infant was “getting on her nerves.” The paramour also told police Ritter used electrical tape to secure a pacifier to the child’s mouth nearly every night and he reportedly observed Ritter throwing the child on three different occasions and shaking the child prior to one of those occasions.

Ritter reportedly admitted to police and the Mifflin County Family Intervention Crisis Service that she shook the child one time and that she may have thrown the infant on a futon. Ritter also told police that on one occasion, she put the child down onto the bed “too hard” and she would sometimes use duct tape to secure a pacifier to the infant’s mouth, but did not do it anymore. Ritter said she did not believe that any of her behavior toward the child would have caused the injuries reported, court documents indicate.

The child was discharged from Hershey Medical Center on Jan. 14 and placed in foster care, under the direction of Mifflin County Children and Youth Services, according to the MCRPD.