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GIRARD Father jailed in sons' injuries



Published: Thu, September 20, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Police said both children had been beaten.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- Both parents of what police say were physically abused children, including one who has died, are behind bars in separate cases.

Bobby Lee Craven, 24, of Trumbull Avenue, was ordered held Wednesday by municipal Judge Michael Bernard in lieu of $500,000 bond on a charge of child endangering.

Judge Bernard said it was the highest bond he has ever set for a defendant and was ordered even before police knew the defendant's 20-month-old son, Brandon, had died late Wednesday morning in Tod Children's Hospital, Youngstown.

What police said: During Craven's arraignment, city police Capt. Frank Bigowsky said Craven's 3-year-old son, Robert Craven, had suffered injuries "head to foot."

Brandon was on life support at Tod's, where his brother is being treated, police said.

Bigowsky said both children were beaten. The case will be presented directly to the county grand jury.

About the mother: The boys' mother, Sandra Faye Smith, is serving a six-month term in the Mahoning County Jail after pleading guilty to two counts of children endangering involving the boys.

Smith, 24, of Franklin Avenue, Youngstown, was sentenced April 13 to six months in jail and fined $500 in Youngstown Municipal Court.

Bigowsky said Craven and Smith are not married and Craven did not live with Smith when she was arrested Feb. 22 in Youngstown.

Youngstown police reported they were called to Smith's house after a neighbor alerted them that a child was walking outside in the snow.

They reported finding Brandon outside wearing only underwear. He had scratches and bruises on his back and stomach and hadn't been bathed in some time.

The house was described by police as being in a "deplorable condition," littered with beer cans, dirty pots and pans, spilled trash and animal feces in front of the refrigerator, which contained beer, wine and a package of ground beef.

When police went upstairs, they found Brandon in a crib "covered in filth." Smith was found asleep with her boyfriend, the report said.

Bigowsky said that as a result of the charges against Smith, their father was given custody.

The boys joined their father at the mobile home where Craven lived with his mother and stepfather, Ethel and John Smeltzer, in Girard.

Monday, Mrs. Smeltzer took Brandon to Northside Medical Center. She told city police her son told her Brandon had fallen.

Family members later arrived at the hospital with Robert, who police reported having old and new bruises.

About the father: Craven said during his arraignment that he's unemployed, his last two jobs being a roofer and car washer. He dropped out of Wilson High School while in the 10th grade.

Bigowsky said Craven doesn't have a criminal record. He has a drunken-driving conviction in Mahoning County.

Trumbull County Children Services received custody of Brandon on Wednesday in Trumbull County Family Court.




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