On Friday, March 10, a two-year-old boy was taken to the emergency room with severe injuries. He was put on life support, which has since been removed. According to law enforcement, the child was beaten inside a trailer in a mobile home park in Marilla. 17-year-old Devon Vanderwege, who is being charged as an adult, was arrested for the assault. Criminal defense attorney Barry Covert spoke to WGRZ about the charges and how they could change now that the young boy’s life support has been removed. The full story is available on the WGRZ website.
Teen charged with first degree assault
At the time of WGRZ’s report, the child had been taken to Buffalo Women and Children’s Hospital and placed on life support. According to a family friend who spoke to the Buffalo News, the young boy had been beaten so badly that his face was mutilated and his back was black and blue. The family friend also indicated that a blunt object may have been used. The felony complaint against Vanderwege states that the defendant beat the victim and caused serious and life-threatening brain injuries.
Vanderwege, who was reportedly babysitting the child, was charged with first degree assault. According to WGRZ, he was said to have acted with “a depraved indifference to human life”. The report went on to say that he was “recklessly engag[ing] in conduct which creates a grave risk of death.” Mr. Covert explained to WGRZ that “this is one of the most serious charges that we have in the penal law.”
“He faces up to 25 years in jail for assault in the first degree,” Mr. Covert went on.
Boy taken off life support
Now that the child has been taken off of life support and the autopsy has begun, the charges against Vanderwege will be elevated. When asked what the new charges could be, Mr. Covert answered, “Murder in the second degree, I would suspect, in addition to manslaughter charges.”
WGRZ asked Mr. Covert what the process of elevating these charges would be. “It’s simply filling out new paperwork, filing it with the court, or they can go directly to a grand jury and get an indictment,” he explained.
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.