The Erie County District Attorney’s Office will seek to withdraw the homicide charge against a Lake City father accused of inflicting fatal injuries on his infant son in February 2016.
The decision was based on “additional medical evidence and interviews with essential witnesses regarding the medical evidence,” District Attorney Jack Daneri said Monday.
The defendant, 23-year-old Nathan A. Taylor, will proceed to trial on the remaining charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and endangering the welfare of a child in the case.
Daneri said medical experts who might have been called to testify at Taylor’s trial were interviewed, but he declined to be more specific about the contents of the interviews or the medical records that were reviewed.
Taylor’s court-appointed lawyer, Eric Hackwelder, said there might have been an “intervening factor,” such as a possible medical error, in the death of Taylor’s son, Draven Taylor, who was 5 months old when he suffered severe head and brain injuries on Feb. 20, 2016, and had to be placed on life support.
“Essentially, it would be very difficult for (the prosecution) to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my client … was responsible for the child’s death,” Hackwelder said.
Lake City police charged that Draven suffered a skull fracture, a right scalp hematoma, laceration of his inner upper lip, a subdural hematoma and other injuries while in Taylor’s care at a residence in the 1000 block of Cherry Street.
The boy’s mother called 911 after returning to the apartment to find him unresponsive and bleeding from the nose, according to the criminal complaint.
Erie County President Judge John J. Trucilla in October granted prosecution requests for detailed medical records related to Draven’s medical care. First Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz is assigned to the case.
Draven, who had been hospitalized in Pittsburgh, died about five months after he suffered the injuries. He had not been able to breathe on his own or interact with others since being injured, according to information provided at the time of Draven’s death and at Taylor’s preliminary hearing.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Draven’s death a homicide and said the cause was complications from blunt-force trauma. Prosecutors added the homicide charge against Taylor within days of Draven’s death in July 2016.
A motion to withdraw the homicide charge has not yet been filed, but will be before Taylor’s May trial date, Daneri said. The motion will be subject to Trucilla’s approval.
Taylor is likely to go to trial on the remaining counts in early May, Hackwelder said.
“We’ve believed all along that my client was not responsible for it,” Hackwelder said.
Hackwelder has also asked Trucilla to set bond in Taylor’s case. Taylor has been held at the Erie County Prison without bond since he was charged with homicide.
In a motion filed Friday, Hackwelder asked Trucilla to grant Taylor unsecured bond or a percentage bond that “would enable a realistic opportunity for release.” Hackwelder referenced the decision to drop the homicide charge in the motion.
Daneri said his office will object to unsecured bond.
Taylor also faces charges including aggravated assault and aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI in a separate incident from April 2016. State police charged that Taylor caused injuries to a Draven’s mother by intentionally jerking the steering wheel of a vehicle while the two were driving in McKean Township.