Everett woman held for court on homicide charge |

By the Gazette Staff

A woman accused of strangling a child left under her care in Everett had all charges against her bound to the Court of Common Pleas at Wednesday’s Central Court.

Chelsea R. Cooley, 31, of Everett was charged with criminal homicide, recklessly ending another person, ending the welfare of a child two counts of aggravated assault, simple assault and strangulation on May 31.

A Raystown Ambulance paramedic tested to respond to an Everett residence on May 28. EMS found the three-year-old on the floor in his bedroom with Cooley attempting to perform CPR. He testified that he rushed the boy into the ambulance. The boy had no pulse and he was struggling to get his airway ventilated. He tested that he had to use forceps to clear the boy’s throat of wet wipes.

At UPMC Bedford, the care of the boy was transferred to the emergency physician. The physician tested to have to remove a wet wipe “deep” in the boy’s throat. The physician tested to the boy being a purplish blue and observing petechiae along the boy’s mouth and neck with little reflexes occurring when the boy was first brought in. He explained that petechiae happen when small blood vessels burst under pressure.

He said he removed a wet wipe from the boy’s throat and had been given the wet wipes EMS had pulled out. He said the wipes would have been “difficult get to that level of impact” and would be considered “fairly deep for a three-year-old” to have put there himself. He tested that most toddlers have strong gag reflexes that would have been hard for the boy to get over.

He tested that the boy was “filthy” with “clean clothes as if he had been changed, but not cleaned up.” He believed the substances on the boy’s hands and feet to be feces.

During cross-examination, the physician said the boy had been alive when he was life flighted to Pittsburgh for treatment. He also said the need for adult forceps on a three-year-old was alarming as it showed the wet wipes were further down the back of the throat. Cooley’s attorney questioned if the EMS using adult forceps would have caused the closeness of the wipes, to which the physician said he did not feel qualified to answer.

A neighbor to the residence where the crime is alleged to have taken place tested to hearing yelling and screaming from the house around 8:05. He explained he had a conversation with a visitor around that time. He tested that the noise continued until what he believed to be an adult woman’s voice yelled “shut up.” He said no more noise was heard from the house until the ambulance had shown up.

He tested on cross-examination that he had heard at least three separate voices, but was not sure how many people were in the house.

Trooper Nickolas Luciano testified to being called to UPMC Bedford on May 28. He said he interviewed the physician, Cooley and the child’s father at the hospital. He said Cooley told him she sent the child to bed at 7:30 pm and she had checked on him an hour later when she found him choking. She allegedly told him the only people home were herself, her 11-year-old daughter, a daughter’s friend, the alleged victim and a one-year-old.

Cooley allegedly showed the trooper a photo of the boy she had sent the father. Luciano said the boy was bluish and had visible bruises in the photo. Luciano said the time stamp on the photo was 8:41 pm He said the clean clothes in the photo did not match what Cooley’s daughter and her friend said they had seen the child in last.

The 911 call for the incident was placed at 9:07 am according to Luciano, which stood out as Cooley said she checked on the boy at 8:30 pm Luciano said that Cooley could be heard saying she needed to put on gloves before she attempted any aid to the alleged victim. Luciano testified to observing the autopsy in Allegheny County in person. He said he had noted heavier bruises on the boys arms and neck and he was shown petechiae both on the outside of the body and internally. He said the medical examiner determined the cause of death as criminal homicide from strangulation and asphyxiation. The examiner allegedly told Luciano a bigger set of hands or objects had left the bruises on the boy’s throat.

Luciano, in a second interview with the boy’s father, said it was alleged that Cooley always complained about the alleged victim and said he misbehaved.

Luciano said Cooley told him the child “was a handful to take care of”, needed therapy or to be put in a facility.

In a cross-examination of the trooper, Cooley’s attorney questioned if the boy had ever been examined for behavioral issues to which the trooper said he had been.

Cooley’s attorney said, in his closing, that he was okay with the court deferring his opinion to review the case law he had mentioned in multiple hearsay objections. He said that the child being deceased was hearsay and so was the cause of death. He alleged that there was no direct evidence that Cooley was at fault.

In her closing, Bedford County district attorney Lesley Childers-Potts said the trooper observed the autopsy with his own eyes so the child was deceased. She also said that Cooley was the only adult present in the residence that night and the only person that had opportunity. Childers-Potts said the Commonwealth had met its burden of proof for a preliminary hearing.

Judge Kevin Diehl bound all charges to the Court of Common Pleas, citing the physician’s direct testimony and observations Luciano had made during his investigation as more than hearsay.

Per the homicide charge, bail is denied.