Mistrial in Child Death
A mixup over medical records and a deadlocked jury forced Circuit Judge James Mazzone to declare a mistrial in the case against Edward Cole Jr., accused of child neglect resulting in the death of his 3-year old daughter.
Attorneys failed to redact certain information from medical records before providing them to jury members, who read the information which was to have been removed.
The panel of 11 men and one woman had deliberated for seven hours without reaching a resolution, and it now will be up to the Ohio County Prosecutor’s Office whether to proceed with a new trial against the 39-year old Wheeling Island resident or drop the charges.
Following closing arguments by Assistant Prosecutor Jenna Perkins and defense attorney Mark Panepinto, the jury of 11 men and one woman received the case at 12:45 p.m.
Prosecutors alleged that Patience Cole died March 3, 2012 after ingesting her father’s anti-depressant pills at the family home on Wheeling Island.
During the last day of testimony, Panepinto called Wheeling police Detective Gregg Harris and Cole’s sister, Megan Eppley to the stand.
Eppley said she visited Cole’s home regularly to help him with physical restrictions related to serious surgical procedures. She said his medications were kept on a shelf high above the reach of the child and she also helped him open his prescription containers with child safety caps.
The defense called Cole’s wife, 28-year-old Cindy Cole, to the stand, but she refused to testify, instead invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. She is scheduled to go on trial next week on a charge of child neglect resulting in death.
In her closing argument, Perkins said Edward Cole Jr. left the medications in a place where they were accessible to the child.
“It was not an accident,” she said. “It was a preventable tragedy.”
Panepinto said the state failed to prove its case.
“The state’s case is based entirely on circumstantial evidence,” he said.
Panepinto claimed throughout the trial that dozens of people were in and out of the Cole home prior to the death of Patience Cole, including a suspicious man who was a family friend, but police never investigated.
An emergency room doctor testified that the child’s life may have been saved if her parents had been forthcoming about the drugs she may have ingested.