A mother and her boyfriend’s brother have been indicted by a Summit County grand jury on charges of murder, multiple counts of involuntary manslaughter and other offenses in the Feb. 26 death of the woman’s 17-month-old son.
The indictment, following an autopsy ruling late last month that the death of Patrick Nicholas Lerch was caused by methamphetamine poisoning, was announced Tuesday morning by the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office.
The child’s death was ruled a homicide.
Heather Lerch, 20, was charged with 10 felonies in a 16-count indictment: one count of murder, one count of complicity to commit murder, four counts of involuntary manslaughter, three counts of child endangering and one count of complicity to commit child endangering.
Ronald Legg, 22, was charged with six felonies: murder, three counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of child endangering.
Lerch’s boyfriend, 19-year-old Randy Legg, was charged with four felonies: three counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of child endangering.
A fourth co-defendant, Allen Kostra, 24, was charged with the same offenses as Randy Legg.
April Wiesner, chief spokeswoman for the county prosecutor, said Lerch and Ronald Legg could spend the rest of their lives in prison if they are convicted of all charges.
Randy Legg and Kostra could face up to 22 years in prison, Wiesner said.
In other developments related to Patrick’s death, which was attributed to ingestion of methamphetamine during what was broadly described in the autopsy findings as a “period of abuse and neglect,” Summit County Medical Examiner Dr. Lisa J. Kohler confirmed the boy suffered additional injuries that were not fatal.
Kohler declined to elaborate, citing the continuing investigation of the crime by Akron police detectives.
Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards also declined to elaborate on the injuries after discussions Tuesday with the department’s juvenile unit detectives.
“It’s something that only the adults who were arrested would know at this point, and [the detectives] want to use that for trial,” Edwards said.
Wiesner said there were multiple counts of involuntary manslaughter in the indictment to enable a jury to consider “different theories of how and why Patrick was killed and find guilt for as many theories as they believe fit the crime.”
However, because there is one victim, only one sentence would apply to Lerch and her co-defendants under Ohio law if they are convicted on any of the manslaughter charges, Wiesner said.
On the night of Feb. 26, police and paramedics responded to a 911 call from a home on St. Leger Avenue in the Goodyear Heights neighborhood.
Edwards, the department’s spokesman, said Patrick was found unresponsive in his crib in the two-story home. He was pronounced dead at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Lerch had been living on St. Leger with her son, her boyfriend, his brother and Kostra since Feb. 13, family members have said.
There were two other adults living at the St. Leger home, but neither has been charged in the case.
Lerch and her three co-defendants were indicted previously for multiple drug-related felonies in connection with the possession and assembly of chemicals for the manufacture of methamphetamine.
They are scheduled to appear Friday morning in Summit County Common Pleas Court for arraignment on the murder and manslaughter charges.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at email@example.com.