Couple charged in infant son's death

June 20, 2008 2:37:32 PM PDT
A Staten Island couple was charged Friday in the death of their 7-week-old son.Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan announced that 42-year-old Joanne Fezza and 46-year-old Peter Mason are charged with second-degree manslaughter in relation to their roles in the March 23, 2008 death of their son Matthew.

The defendants have also been charged with four misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child for failing to provide proper living conditions for Matthew and his 5-year-old surviving brother.

Matthew Mason was pronounced dead on March 23, 2008 at Staten Island University Hospital North where he was being treated after being found unresponsive by a relative inside his family's Oder Avenue home at approximately 9 a.m.

Following an autopsy, the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the death was as a result of acute bronchopneumonia brought about by starvation.

The indictment alleges that the defendants recklessly caused the child's death by starving him. It also says the couple endangered the welfare of Matthew and his-brother by failing to provide adequate food and living conditions, specifically including but not limited to inadequate food in the home and unsanitary, filthy conditions in the kitchen and bathroom.

The defendants were ordered held on $500,000 bail until their next court date on July 2. The top count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.