Akron’s 9th District Court of Appeals has upheld the murder and child endangering convictions of Heather Lerch in the 2012 drug-related death of her 17-month-old son Patrick.
Lerch, 22, had filed an appeal to overturn the convictions. She claimed that the jury’s guilty verdicts were not supported by the evidence, ineffective assistance of defense counsel, and that some police evidence should have been suppressed.
All of her claims were denied.
Trial testimony showed Patrick died of methamphetamine poisoning in a rat-infested basement of a two-story home on St. Leger Avenue in Akron’s Goodyear Heights neighborhood.
Lerch had taken her son there, on the Monday before Valentine’s Day, so she could be with her boyfriend.
Testimony from Summit County’s chief medical examiner showed that Patrick had ingested such lethal amounts of the drug by the last day of his life, Feb. 26, 2012, he most likely was dead two to three hours before officers and an emergency crew arrived in response to a 911 call that the child was not breathing.
The 9th District’s 25-page decision, authored by Judge Beth Whitmore, contained graphic descriptions of the abuse that Patrick suffered at the St. Leger home. Rampant use of methamphetamine also was going on there throughout the weekend in which the child died.
A co-defendant who testified at Lerch’s trial told the jury that Patrick was acting strangely on his last night, seemed to be having trouble breathing and that he told Lerch about the child’s condition. “Lerch, however, did nothing,” Whitmore wrote.
By the time paramedics received the 911 dispatch report and arrived at the St. Leger home, it was too late.
Lerch is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole consideration for 22 years.
The court’s entire decision is available on the Summit County Clerk of Courts website at http://www.cpclerk.co.summit.oh.us. The 9th District case number is CA-26684.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at email@example.com.