At a court hearing on Tuesday, February 9, Northumberland County President Judge Charles H. Saylor struck down a defense motion to dismiss charges against 20-year-old Jahrid Josef Burgess because, the defense argued, testimony at Jahrid’s preliminary hearing was insufficient to support the charges.
Jahrid is charged with multiple crimes relating to the death of his girlfriend’s daughter, three-year-old Arabella Parker, stemming from a beating Jahrid allegedly inflicted on her at their home in Trevorton, Pennsylvania in October of 2019. Arabella died at Geisinger Medical Center after several weeks on life support, during which part of her brain had to be removed due to damage caused during the beating. Jahrid’s charges include: criminal homicide; three counts of aggravated assault; child endangerment; obstruction; two counts of simple assault, strangulation; reckless endangerment; false reporting; and two counts of harassment.
At the hearing, the judge heard testimony from Arabella’s mother, 25-year-old Samantha Jo Delcamp, who is being held at the Centre County Prison on charges of criminal homicide; three counts of aggravated assault; child endangerment; obstruction; hindering prosecution by providing false information to law enforcement; simple assault, reckless endangerment; and false reporting.
At the hearing, Samantha appeared by video conference, while Jahrid attended in person. Although news outlets had previously reported that Samantha was in negotiations with the prosecution, Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz asked Samantha during questioning if she was testifying because she had been promised anything in return by his office or by police.
Samantha replied, “No. I am doing this because my daughter deserves justice.”
During her testimony, Samantha recounted several items she previously brought up in police interviews, saying Jahrid beat her four separate times from July through October of 2019. She told the judge her then-boyfriend would get angry and punch her, kick her, and slap her in the face. She said Jahrid made her sit on the bed while he determined her punishment for failing to follow the rules he had set.
“He would pour soda over my head and spit in my face,” she said. “He dumped soda over Arabella’s head and spit on her, as well.”
Samantha admitted she lied to police during an interview while Arabella lay in the hospital on life support, saying, “I was scared of him. He told me if Arabella were to die to not worry about it, because we would have another baby.”
Samantha testified that on the evening Arabella was fatally injured, Jahrid picked up the little girl and threw her three to four feet toward a couch, but instead, Arabella landed on the floor, after which she began having a seizure. Jahrid, Samantha said, would not let her call 911, and the call was made almost an hour later when Jahrid’s mother, 51-year-old Christy Lynn Willis, arrived. At that time, she said, it was agreed that Christy would say she was present but in another room when Arabella’s seizure began, when in truth, she was at her own home several miles away.
Christy, who is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail, also faces charges of obstruction, hindering prosecution, and false reporting. Jury selection in Christy’s trial is scheduled to begin on April 12 before Northumberland Court of Common Pleas Judge Paige Rosini.
Also at the February 9 hearing, Trooper Brian Siebert testified, reading from one of Arabella’s doctor’s reports, which mentioned 44 injuries the child had suffered and stated that some of her injuries were up to eight weeks old. The untreated injuries, the doctor said, would have caused Arabella severe pain.
Prosecutor Matulewicz assured the court that his case wasn’t centered around Samantha. In his recorded police interview, the video of which was played for Judge Saylor at the hearing, Jahrid admitted to police that he hit and threw Arabella, who ultimately died on November 22, 2019. Matulewicz said he is ready to proceed to trial, but Jahrid’s public defender, Richard Feudale, said the defense would file other pre-trial motions before a jury could be selected.
Samantha’s next court date is scheduled as a status conference, again before Judge Saylor, at 9:15 AM on April 23.
Jahrid’s next court appearance has not yet been scheduled.
Sources: The Sunbury Item, Penn-Live Patriot News, Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System web portal