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W.Va. woman charged with neglect in infant son's death waives hearing

Case against Jessica Skupnick likely to proceed to circuit court

January 19, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Jessica Lynn Skupnick
Jessica Lynn Skupnick

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A woman charged with child neglect causing the death of her 2-month-old son in December waived her right to a preliminary hearing in Berkeley County Magistrate Court on Wednesday.

Jessica Lynn Skupnick, 22, and her boyfriend, Dominic Michael Hall, 18, are charged with felony child neglect resulting in the death of Jaxon Chaz Hall.

On Dec. 4, Jaxon was pronounced dead at 192 Butterfly Lane near Hedgesville, W.Va., where the infant resided with his mother and Hall, Hall's mother and his stepsister, police testified last month in a preliminary hearing that was held for Skupnick’s boyfriend.

Investigators have determined that the manner of the child’s death was homicide.

Skupnick, who was released from Eastern Regional Jail on Jan. 10, did not appear in court for the hearing Wednesday. Attorney B. Craig Manford, who was appointed to represent Skupnick, briefly appeared before Magistrate Jim Humphrey on her behalf.

With the waiver in hand, the prosecution's case against Skupnick now is expected to proceed to circuit court where it can be presented to a grand jury for indictment. In addition to visible quarter- and nickel-sized bruises on the left and right side of the infant's forehead, Jaxon had two broken ribs on his left side, police have testified.

The cause of Jaxon’s death was blunt-force trauma to the head and police have said that the largest of the two bruises — internally — was about 3 inches in diameter.  The infant was found wrapped in a blanket in a recliner-like chair in the living room at the family's home in the Back Creek Valley community of Jones Spring.

Skupnick and Hall, who police testified was not the baby's biological father, had been living there since the end of July with Hall's mother and his 9-year-old half sister.

Hall's mother, in a statement to police, said she was made aware of the bruises on Jaxon's head on Dec. 1, police have said.

On Dec. 3, the baby was scheduled to be taken to a physician for a routine checkup, but police testified the doctor's office indicated the parents were a "no show" for the appointment, and they did not call the doctor's office to cancel it.
 
The criminal penalties for a felony conviction of one count of child neglect resulting in death include a prison sentence of not less than three nor more than 15 years, and as much as a $5,000 fine, under state law.

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