Relatives of a Bolivar man convicted last year in the beating death of his infant daughter demonstrated Thursday at the state police station in White Township, complaining that the case wasn’t thoroughly investigated.
Led by Judy Rosian and Nancy Tyger, the group protested that they had evidence that the blame for the death of Natalee Mibroda almost two years ago should have been shared with the child’s mother as well.
In response to the protest, the lead investigator stood firm on the status of the case: closed.
[PHOTO: Relatives of Natalee Mibroda protested Thursday outside the state police barracks in White Township. Pictured are Judy Rosian, great-step aunt, and Treasure Dixon, aunt. (Tom Peel/Gazette photo)]
Natalee Mibroda was 20 days old when she died Dec. 27, 2011, at Indiana Regional Medical Center. She had been found unresponsive at home in Bolivar, Westmoreland County, and was rushed by paramedics to the Indiana hospital, where state police from Indiana were promptly called to look into her death.
Authorities said the baby died of injuries to her head and chest, and police charged that Clayton Mibroda, who was alone with the child, had shaken and beaten her.
A forensic pathologist testified at Mibroda’s trial in January that the injuries could not have been accidental. A jury in Westmoreland County Court in Greensburg convicted Mibroda of third-degree murder, rejecting his testimony that his girlfriend, Kayla Jo Lichtenfels — Natalee’s mother — had abused the infant on the day she died.
But Rosian told reporters that she informed investigators that Lichtenfels had mistreated the baby during her short three weeks of life — an allegation that police said Thursday could not be proven.
“There is something wrong and I think we deserve answers,” Rosian said. “Does the district attorney know all of this? Does the judge? Because the jurors don’t.”
Natalee was born with opiates in her bloodstream, tests showed.
Lichtenfels never referred to her by name or as a baby, and called Natalee “it,” Rosian said. She said one witness, the 10-year-old daughter of Lichtenfels’ friend, reported that she saw Lichtenfels shake and shout profanities at the infant, but Rosian said the girl’s story was ignored.
Rosian and Tyger are sisters of Clayton Mibroda’s stepfather, Joseph Fetterman, of Rochester Mills.
Trooper Timothy Lipniskis, who charged only Clayton Mibroda in connection with Natalee’s death, said the witness statements alone could not sustain charges against anyone else.
“We talked to the girl,” Lipniskis said. “When that occurred, it was never brought to the attention of the state police.
“It was only brought to the attention of the state police after we arrested Clayton for homicide. There was no evidence to support that.”
Lipniskis said that with no allegations of abuse, from witnesses or any Children & Youth Services office, police only had Natalee’s death to investigate.
“We arrested somebody who was convicted by a jury, and who appealed and lost, and whose conviction was upheld, and we didn’t have any indication that a crime was committed by Kayla,” he said. “Neither Pennsylvania State Police nor Children & Youth was contacted when this abuse supposedly happened.
“All of us have been in court, and things stand where they are,” Lipniskis said.
“I feel sorry for the family and I wish I could help them. But I need evidence to support a crime being committed. You can’t tell me somebody did something without evidence to support it. I can’t base it on ‘you told me that.’ That’s not evidence.”
Although murder charges can be filed any time after a homicide death, Rosian said the law allows only two years for police to file lesser charges, such as assault, child welfare endangerment or recklessly endangering another person.
That window of opportunity would expire late next month, she said.
Clayton Mibroda, now 27, was sentenced in April to serve 15 to 30 years in prison for his conviction.