Charges refiled in Pa. caregiver case

April 18, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A preliminary hearing is scheduled May 10 for a Chambersburg man charged with involuntary manslaughter for a second time after a magisterial district judge dismissed the original case against him in March.

On March 8, Magisterial District Judge David Hawbaker dismissed the case against Joseph Easton, who had been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Sept. 9, 2010, death of a man with Down syndrome.

Easton, 40, was charged with the single criminal count after allegedly sitting on a 37-year-old man at a care home operated by Person Directed Supports Inc. in Guilford Township, Pa., according to online court records.

Franklin County (Pa.) Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said Timothy Bradford Smith died of traumatic asphyxiation.

Hawbaker dismissed the charge after a preliminary hearing in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. The Franklin County District Attorney's Office refiled the charge March 17, records state.

In a previous interview, District Attorney Matt Fogal said he intended to refile the charge and ask President Judge Douglas Herman to assign a new magisterial district judge to the case.

An affidavit of probable cause states Easton and Smith struggled before Easton allegedly flipped Smith face down on the floor, straddled his waist and held his arms above his head.

The incident occurred after Smith defecated and urinated in his pants at lunchtime, the affidavit states.

Involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

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