Mom, boyfriend are charged in infant’s death
Probe uncovered delays by Children and Youth in removing baby from mother.
EDWARD LEWIS email@example.com
WEST HAZLETON – A Hazleton mother and her boyfriend were charged Monday in connection with the death of her 3-month-old son, Xavier Simmons, who died after being violently shaken on Jan. 14, authorities said.
Tiffany A. Simmons, 25, of North Vine Street, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of children. Her boyfriend, Alan D. Leitzel, 25, of Bator Street, West Hazleton, was charged with criminal homicide.
The couple were arraigned separately before District Judge Daniel O’Donnell. Simmons was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $250,000 bail, and Leitzel was jailed without bail.
The investigation into the case uncovered delays by the Luzerne County Children and Youth Services in removing Xavier from Simmons in a timely manner. The state Department of Public Welfare found the baby’s mother violated an agreement to keep her son away from Leitzel. The delay resulted in a downgrading of the county agency’s status by the state. Children and Youth will operate on provisional status through Sept. 1.
“She had a duty to take care of this child,” Luzerne County District Attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll said. “She knew she should not have allowed this baby to be around her boyfriend. She put her own needs and desires to be with this man above the safety of this child. It’s unforgivable and inexcusable.”
Simmons told a child caseworker in December that she had physical fights with Leitzel in front of her children. She was directed to keep her children away from Leitzel. She continued to take her son with her when she visited Leitzel at his home.
In its report, DPW faulted Children and Youth for failing to take immediate action after learning Simmons had violated its directive.
Musto Carroll declined comment on the Children and Youth situation and said most of the details will come out as the case against Simmons and Leitzel progresses through the courts.
According to the criminal complaint filed by county Lt. Detective Gary Capitano and state police Trooper James Curto of the Hazleton barracks: Simmons took the child to Hazleton General Hospital at about 7 a.m. Jan. 14. She claimed she was alone when she fed her son a bottle at about 5:30 a.m. and noticed her son was unresponsive about an hour later. Simmons later admitted she lied and said she was with Leitzel at his home.
Leitzel told investigators he was upset with Simmons because she wouldn’t get out of bed to care for her son. He picked up the infant under the arms without supporting the baby’s head. The infant’s head struck a plastic shield on the bassinet.
When Xavier began crying, Leitzel returned him to the bassinet, left the room and returned a short time later to find the infant gasping for air.
Police say Leitzel picked up the baby again and began yelling at Simmons to get out of bed. Simmons ignored his screams and Leitzel shook the infant two or three times, the complaint says.
This woman was shitty mother all around. Poor babies.