Plea change expected in abused infant case 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

NORTHAMPTON — A Belchertown man accused of beating an infant and evading police nearly two years ago is expected to plead guilty at the end of the month, according to attorneys involved in the case.

Keith A. Truehart has pleaded not guilty in Hampshire Superior Court to three counts of assault and battery on a child causing serious bodily injury and one count of witness intimidation after police said his girlfriend’s infant daughter was admitted to the hospital with fractured ribs as well as bruises to her face and ears. Truehart had been babysitting the infant.

Truehart’s lawyer, Korrina Burnham, of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, and the prosecutor, Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Caleb Weiner, on Wednesday told Judge John Ferrara that Truehart is expected to change his plea June 28. It was not clear Wednesday in court to which charges Truehart would plead guilty. 

In November 2014, the child’s mother, Melonie K. Cummings, 29, originally told first-responders that the baby had fallen on a toy.

But medical staff and investigators determined that the injuries were not consistent with that explanation, Weiner previously said in court.

Truehart was placed on the state’s most wanted list. In June 2015, authorities searched Cummings’ home and found Truehart under the kitchen sink in a makeshift hideout made of wood and sheetrock.

Cummings, 29, last month pleaded guilty in Hampshire Superior Court to being an accessory to a crime after the fact and to misleading police.

Judge Daniel Ford accepted a plea deal, which includes Cummings serving 18 months in the Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center in Chicopee followed by four years of probation.

Note: This story has been modified to indicate the correct name of the facility holding Melonie Cummings.

Michael Majchrowicz can be reached at mmajchrowicz@gazettenet.com or 413-585-5234.