Mother denied bond after death of child found in hotel bathtub
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A West Virginia toddler who nearly drowned in a Green Tree hotel bathtub died on Friday, and an Allegheny County judge revoked the bond of his mother, who has been charged with trying to kill him.
Steven Flanagan was pronounced dead at 1:15 p.m. at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, about the same time his mother, Sharon, 33, successfully completed a psychiatric evaluation through the jail's behavior clinic, which would have allowed her to post $250,000 straight bond.
But the 2-year-old boy's death means homicide charges are pending against Ms. Flanagan, of Inwood, and prosecutors told Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Borkowski they feared she would flee, as she has no ties to Pittsburgh, said her attorney, David J. DeFazio. The judge agreed to revoke her bond in light of the boy's death.
Ms. Flanagan was charged with attempted homicide, child endangerment and other crimes on Monday, a day after paramedics found her son unconscious in their room at the Best Western on Greentree Road. A hotel guest and a security guard pulled Steven from the tub, where he had been facedown in the water. Guests told police they were concerned when she went running down a hall screaming, "My baby! My baby!"
Ms. Flanagan told Allegheny County homicide detectives she was unable to lift her 32-pound son from the bathtub; at one point she insisted "something was actually pulling him toward the bottom of the tub," police wrote in a criminal complaint. Detectives said they charged her because her explanations of the incident were inconsistent and implausible. She was the lone caregiver for the boy, and the two had been at the hotel for less than two hours before the incident unfolded.
The boy's father was at home in Inwood but traveled to Pittsburgh to be by the boy's side. Mr. DeFazio said relatives had mentioned recent marital strife between the couple, and he believed they were nearing divorce.
Ms. Flanagan was too distraught to tell him much about the case when he briefly visited her in jail this week.
"She maintained her innocence, that's for sure," Mr. DeFazio said. "She never meant to hurt her son. She was continually crying."
He said she worked as an adjunct professor at American Public University based in Charles Town and earned a master's degree in business administration from Pensacola Christian College in Florida. Her husband is a pastor at a small church and also works as a security guard, Mr. DeFazio said.
Mr. Flanagan could not be reached for comment Friday night. An autopsy is scheduled today.
First Published July 7, 2012 12:00 am