Woman pulls plea, seeks trial in death of her granddaughter
SUNBURY - A Selinsgrove woman charged in connection with the death of her granddaughter has withdrawn her guilty plea and plans to take her case to trial.
Bertha M. Dreese, 65, reportedly changed her mind on the plea because of the 12 to 60 month sentence her daughter received in the case. Heidi S. Yocum, 30, of Lewisburg, the mother of the 1-year-old girl, was expecting to be placed on probation after her guilty plea.
Dreese was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 28 on a charge of involuntary manslaughter involving the death of Anela Naloni Loner, but is seeking to have a trial during the July term of criminal court, her attorney, James Best, of Sunbury, said Friday.
A pre-trial conference scheduled Friday morning before Judge William H. Wiest for Dreese was continued, and a new date has not been scheduled.
Anela died from hyperthermia after being left in a room for 19 hours with a space heater in 2010.
Yocum was sentenced Jan. 14 by Judge Charles H. Saylor after previously pleading guilty to recklessly endangering a child for her role in the death. Yocum's plea was accepted by Saylor, but not the sentencing conditions of probation the defendant and her attorney, Edward "E.J." Rymsza of Williamsport had sought. He ordered the lengthy state prison sentence instead.
Dreese, Yocum and the infant's father, 29-year-old Lopaka Loner, were charged in the death.
On Nov. 19, Loner was sentenced by President Judge Robert B. Sacavage to 11 1/2 to 23 months in Northumberland County Prison after pleading guilty to misdemeanors of endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.
Loner received the jail sentence on the endangering offense, and was given two months consecutive probation on the recklessly endangering charge.
Loner also was ordered to pay $600 in fines and various costs, and given credit for 219 days previously served in Northumberland County Prison.
The trio were charged by Sunbury Officer Jamie Quinn about a year after the Oct. 16, 2010, death of the infant from hyperthermia after being left in a room for 19 hours with a space heater at 43 S. Seventh St., Sunbury, where Yocum and Loner resided at the time.
Police said Dreese had been babysitting the child and Yocum's two other children on Oct. 16. Police said Dreese arrived at the home at 1 p.m., but didn't check on the infant until the following morning.
Additionally, neither Yocum nor Loner checked on the child throughout the day, police said.
Authorities said the infant was not provided any food or water in the room that likely ranged in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees.