On Wednesday, October 25, 2016, Batavia mother Heather Ace’s statements to police were released publicly. Ace has been accused of child endangerment in the fatal house fire that killed her two sons. Barry Covert spoke to WGRZ about the charges. The full story is available on the WGRZ website.
Fire’s origins unknown
According to WGRZ, Ace’s police statement said that she left her sons asleep in their bedroom, latched the door, and left to buy $10 worth of marijuana. During her absence, the house caught fire and both boys died inside. According to Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster, Ace was charged with child endangerment rather than murder or manslaughter because investigators believed that she did not know the fire was going to happen. WGRZ reports that the sheriff’s office does not know how the fire started, but that an electrical fire has been ruled out.
More severe charges may be complicated
Barry Covert told WGRZ that charging Ace with murder or manslaughter may have had additional complications. “The problem with charging either of those is that they would have to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that she caused the death of her two children,” he explained. According to WGRZ, the police and the DA’s office call Ace negligent, but they have not determined that she intended to do harm to her children. This means that proving a higher charge would be difficult to do beyond a reasonable doubt.
About Barry N. Covert
Mr. Covert is a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area. He is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; driving while intoxicated; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense. Mr. Covert frequently provides legal analysis for WGRZ and other media outlets.