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Police: Parents charged with homicide in 2018 death of their 4-week-old son

Breanna Witten and Corey Robbins were arrested this week and charged in connection to the baby's death after a long-term investigation, Harrisburg Police said.
Credit: Harrisburg Police
Breanna Witten and Corey Robbins

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The parents of a four-week-old infant who died in November 2018 were arrested this week on charges of homicide in connection to the baby's death, Harrisburg Police said Thursday.

Breanna Witten, 25, and Corey Robbins, 26, are also each charged with one count of endangering the welfare of children, according to police.

Witten, of Harrisburg, was arrested Monday, while Robbins was taken into custody in York Haven on Tuesday, police said.

Both were charged as the result of a long-term investigation into the death of their son, according to police.

According to criminal complaint affidavits filed against each suspect by Harrisburg Police, Witten and Robbins brought their four-week-old son to Holy Spirit Hospital at about 11:45 on the morning of Nov. 5, 2018.

Medical personnel at the hospital quickly determined the child was unresponsive and attempted lifesaving measures, which were unsuccessful, according to police. The baby was pronounced dead at 12:05 p.m.

In separate interviews with police, Witten and Robbins allegedly claimed that they found the baby unresponsive in his bassinet that morning, the complaints state. 

Police later returned the couple to their Derry Street home to re-enact their discovery of the baby. During both interviews, neither suspect showed any emotion, police say in the complaints.

Later that night, police say, Robbins called police and requested a third interview, admitting that he and Witten had lied in the two previous interviews and wanted to tell the truth, police claim.

In the third interview, Robbins claimed he had laid down with the baby on a futon and slept for about three or four hours. Witten later woke him to say something was wrong with the baby, and that he was unresponsive, according to police.

In her interview, Witten allegedly told police that she and Robbins made up the story about finding the baby in the bassinet as they drove to the hospital. She said she actually found the baby unresponsive while lying on a futon with Robbins.

Witten allegedly told police that the baby was "fussy every night," and that the morning was the first time Robbins had to do everything to care for the child.

She told police the baby must have suffocated when Robbins rolled over on him while they slept, the complaint states.

Witten admitted that she did not attempt CPR, because she "knew in her mind" that the baby was already dead, police claim.

An autopsy on the victim performed on Nov. 6 determined the baby died due to complications from asphyxia, and the manner of death was undetermined pending the return of test results from materials sent to a lab for analysis, the complaints state.

Once the test results came back, the Dauphin County Coroner's Office ruled the baby's death a homicide, the complaint says. The autopsy found bruising on the baby's scalp, consistent with "someone pushing down on his head," the complaints state.

The autopsy also found petechial hemorrhages to the baby's heart, lungs, and liver, indicating the baby was "pressed down" and unable to breathe, according to the complaints.

The baby also had signs of a previous liver injury that did not result in death, the autopsy determined, according to police.

The coroner also said the baby had other injuries that a "rollover" would not explain, police say in the complaint.

Witten and Robbins were both arraigned on the charges and both are being held without bail in Dauphin County Prison while they await preliminary hearings, according to court records.

Witten's preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 30, while Robbins' hearing is set for April 6, court records show.


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