Palmerton couple to stand trial in death of infant daughter
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Kimberly and Jacob Taschler are shown entering the building Thursday morning prior to their preliminary hearing before District Judge Bruce Appleton of Palmerton. Troopers have charged the Taschlers in connection with the death of their 11-month-old daughter, Kayla Marie Taschler, after they said the couple failed to provide proper care for the child, which was a major factor responsible for her death.
A Palmerton couple charged in the death of their 11-month-old daughter are headed to trial.
Jacob and Kimberly Ann Taschler, of 803 Edgemont Ave., have been ordered to stand trail before the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas at 9 a.m. Aug. 12.
That was the ruling made by District Judge Bruce Appleton of Palmerton during a preliminary hearing Thursday for the Taschlers, who face charges of involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.
Last month, troopers charged the Taschlers in connection with the death of their daughter, Kayla Marie Taschler, after they said the couple failed to provide proper care for the child, which was a major factor responsible for her death. At that time, the couple was charged and arraigned before District Judge Joseph Homanko, of Weatherly, on the charges.
On Thursday, defense attorney George Dydynsky, who represented Jacob Taschler, argued there were "no autopsy findings that explain the demise of this child."
"There is nothing here that says there is a conclusion of certainty; the doctor is saying 'I don't know, and I can't say'", Dydynsky said. "I believe this autopsy report and the testimony of this doctor should not be heard. If anything, this is speculation."
Dydynsky continued to lambast the report.
"I cannot believe that we're relying in a murder case on junk science," he said.
However, Assistant District Attorney William McDonald said the report clearly states the cause of death.
But, Dydynsky continued to dismiss the report.
"This language is just not efficient," he said. "In fact, this language is deficient."
McDonald said it was the parents' duty to care for their child, which they failed to do.
Dydnsky continued to argue there were no "findings or studies to explain why the baby died."
"These are flimsy reports," he said. "There's no where these people were in any way compromised in their ability to care for their children."
McDonald countered that the Taschlers' acted in a "grossly negligent manner."
"They did not do a follow-up checkup, and the child was strapped in and unattended to for 16 hours while the parents smoked marijuana," he said. (The child died) because there was a failure to provide fluid and nutrition, which the parents failed to do."
Dydynsky then asked for the charges against both clients to be dropped, a request Appleton denied.
McDonald then made a motion to have the Taschlers' bail increased, which Appleton denied.
The Taschlers also have two sons who are currently staying with relatives, and may only visit their children under strict supervision.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by state Trooper Patrick Finn:
On Wednesday, Jan. 20, the lifeless body of the victim was carried into the Emergency Room of Palmerton Hospital by Kimberly Taschler, according to the affidavit.
According to Dr. Walter Bell, the victim was clearly dead, which included being cold to the touch and being in rigor mortis, the affidavit says. Additionally, the victim had extensive red markings on her back and buttocks. Dr. Bell pronounced the victim dead at 12:54 p.m.
The Pennsylvania State Police were contacted and initiated an investigation at that time. Through the course of the investigation, the following has been documented through interviews, search warrants, and forensic examinations:
The victim had never been seen by a doctor until almost eight months old. This included having never received shots/immunizations.
During the first visit in October of 2009, the victim weighed over 16 pounds. A follow-up visit took place in November of 2009, at which point the victim was found to have lost five ounces, which prompted concern from the doctor.
As a result, a follow-up visit was scheduled for December 2009. Kimberly and Jacob Taschler failed to ever take the victim to a doctor again.
On the night prior to the victim's death, Kimberly Taschler strapped the victim into a car seat and left her on the floor of an upstairs bedroom. The victim was left unattended to for at least 16 hours, without Kimberly or Jacob Taschler checking on the welfare of the victim or providing food or fluids. During this time period, Kimberly and Jacob Taschler smoked marijuana.
An autopsy was conducted by Dr. Sara Funke, forensic pathologist. At the time of the autopsy, the victim was found to weigh just over 13 pounds.
The victim displayed evidence of wasting, with extensive loss of weight and muscle mass, and also exhibited severe signs of dehydration.
Internal examination, toxicological analysis, and radiology found that there was no medical reason for the victim to have suffered weight loss and dehydration.
Instead, the factors were external in that the child was not properly provided fluids and nutrition, which resulted in her death.
The markings on the victim's back were found to be eroded skin that was the result of the victim having prolonged exposure to moisture and being in contact with bodily wastes.