Death penalty sought for Columbia couple in death of infant son
BY BRETT HAMBRIGHT, Staff Writer
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a Columbia couple charged with killing their infant son last year, according to a court filing.
Prosecutors on Thursday afternoon filed a notice to seek the death penalty against Andrew Moyer and Brianna Michael stemming from the Oct. 18 death of 6-week-old Andrew Moyer Jr. Prosecutors also said Thursday that they plan to try the couple together.
Each is charged with homicide, conspiracy and endangering a child for a series of beatings and torture that led to the boy's death.
First Assistant District Attorney Christopher Larsen, in the court filing, said the baby's age and the torture element are aggravating factors that prompted the death-penalty notice.
According to previous court filings, Michael, 23, eventually told police that Moyer, 24, administered what officials say was the fatal blow: a knee to the baby's head.
Still, Larsen said on Thursday, first-degree murder convictions and the death penalty will be sought against both.
"With these aggravating circumstances, both the individual who directly caused the death and the co-conspirator are subject to the death penalty," he said.
Both are being held at Lancaster County Prison. They likely will be tried later this year.
Barry Goldman, Moyer's attorney, said he wasn't shocked by the Commonwealth's filing.
"I was told early on they would likely file death penalty in this," he said this week.
Also this week, Goldman filed motions notifying the court that he will use a private investigator, a psychiatrist and other medical experts in defending his client.
"In any murder case, obviously the defendant's mental-health state is relevant and important," he said. "The investigator (is) to flush out facts and background."
Merrill Spahn, Michael's attorney, declined comment Thursday.
Larsen said he will push to have the couple tried together. Typically, defense attorneys request separate trials.
Goldman, while noting that a final decision hasn't been made, said: "If there are death-penalty implications, there would be separate trials."
Both parents waived preliminary hearings last month on all charges. No deals or agreements are believed to have been made in the case.
Michael told police that Moyer kneed the boy in the head, documents show. However, prosecutors allege, that wasn't the only instance of abuse; rather, the last.
Injuries were discovered on the boy's head, scrotum, buttocks and ribs, officials have said.
Both parents knew about the abuse, according to police.
The couple was charged a week after Andrew's death and arrested at Moyer's parents house in Stevens.
The abuse allegedly happened inside Apartment D at 146 Locust St., Columbia.