Dad JOHN RICHARD "RICKY" NERONE has been convicted for assaulting his wife and 8-week-old son. The baby suffered horrendous injuries and has permanent brain damage.
Once again--like many of these cases--we have a working mom (even though the baby was only 8 weeks old!) and a "caretaker" (read: layabout unemployed/unemployable abuser) dad. Let's let mom stay at home for a change, and put guys like Nerone to work breaking rocks instead of baby skulls.
Published: March 10, 2010 11:22 pm
Father guilty of beating infant, wife
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
EBENSBURG — A former Middle Taylor Township man was convicted Wednesday night of physically abusing his wife and of shaking and beating his infant son so severely that the child has permanent brain damage.
John Richard “Ricky” Nerone, 23, closed his eyes momentarily when the first of the guilty verdicts was read.
Shortly afterward he looked down and appeared to be fighting back tears.
As he left the courtroom to be taken back to the county prison by sheriff’s deputies, Nerone ignored questions from news reporters about the verdict.
The jury found him guilty on all five counts – including two counts of aggravated assault that each carry five-year mandatory minimum sentences – in the abuse of his son, Johnny. He was convicted of simple assault and reckless endangerment physical assault on his wife, Sara, but acquitted of aggravated assault.
The jury deliberated for nearly three hours before returning the verdicts.
Judge Norman Krumenacker said Narone’s sentencing would be set within 90 days.
The baby suffered skull fractures, broken ribs, torn blood vessels in the brain and other injuries, according to trial testimony. A medical expert said that the brain injuries were found when the then-8-week-old boy was rushed to a hospital March 30. The wounds were caused by violent shaking of the child, and some injuries were not as recent, testimony revealed.
Johnstown police charged that Nerone beat his son March 30 when the two were home alone and the mother was at work. Nerone called 911 shortly before 11 a.m. that day seeking help for his son, who was having difficulty breathing. He told the 911 dispatcher – and later the police – that the baby had thrown his head back and possibly broken his neck.
During the trial, Sara Nerone testified that her husband had slapped – and at times punched – their son four other times prior to March 30, beginning in February 2009 when the baby was just 3 weeks old. She said that she had been abused by Nerone first in 2007 and then several other times after that.
Assistant District Attorney Tamara Bernstein said afterward, “There’s relief” felt by Sara Narone and her family about the verdict. “I’m not saying joy but a sense of justice, a sense of closure,” Bernstein said in describing their emotions.
Julie Wagner, one of the lead investigators from the Johns-town police on the case, said, “I’m happy. Justice was done.”
Patricia Moore, a public defender representing Nerone, expressed disappointment with the conviction and said that she would be speaking to him about whether to file an appeal.
Asked about the verdict, Moore said, “Obviously everybody has sympathy for the baby and the injuries the baby suffered. But there were two parents in that household, two parents responsible for the child, two parents know what happened.”
In a closing argument to the jury Wednesday, Moore raised questions about Sara Nerone’s credibility. The defense attorney was sharply critical of the woman for not reporting the child abuse and for not seeking help for her son.
“She did nothing. She’s supposed to take care of the child. She’s to protect that child,” Moore said.
But Bernstein told the jurors that Sara Nerone is a textbook example of a person who does not disclose abuse “when you’re a victim of domestic violence, a position she was slowly put into. This didn’t happen overnight.”
Bernstein described the defendant as a violent and dangerous abuser who should be held accountable for what he had done. The prosecution proved that Nerone had abused his baby son on March 30, she said. Other witnesses saw the baby earlier that day, and he had appeared healthy and well, Bernstein said.
She recalled that the mother’s testimony showed that Nerone had acted out against the child after the infant became fussy.
“When he was angry, he was violent, and when he was violent, he was so dangerous,” Bernstein said.
One of the last prosecution witnesses to testify earlier Wednesday was Lee Domaracki, a therapist with Beginnings Inc. of Johnstown, who described the physical, occupational and vision therapy the infant receives each week.
The boy, who has impaired vision as well as brain damage, was determined to be at a 5-month-old developmental level when he turned 1 in February, Domaracki said.