Sep 26, 2018
A Dauphin County judge correctly allowed prosecutors to use an intellectually disabled Harrisburg mother's confession to scalding the hands of her 8-year-old son, a state Superior Court panel ruled Wednesday.
That decision upholds the aggravated assault and child endangerment convictions against 36-year-old Keisha Moore, who is serving a 10-year probation term.
Moore had asked the state court to void Judge Deborah E. Curcillo's refusal to suppress her confession regarding the July 2013 incident. Police said Moore eventually admitted holding her son's hands under piping hot water in a kitchen sink as punishment for misbehaving.
The boy required hospital treatment for the burns. Police said at first Moore claimed the boy's injuries were due to spider bites.
On appeal, Moore insisted her confession to police should have been suppressed because she didn't fully grasp the meaning of the interrogation. She cited testimony from a defense psychologist who concluded she was unable to make legal decisions independently.
That doctor stated Moore did not know the capital of Pennsylvania, thought there are only nine states in the U.S. and believed the nation is only 110 miles wide. Moore's lawyers also claimed she has the communication skills of a 6-year-old.
Judge Carolyn H. Nichols rejected that mental impairment argument in the state court opinion denying Moore's appeal. Nichols cited a prosecution psychologist's finding that Moore had the mental capacity to understand what was happening when she talked to the police after being read her Miranda rights.
Curcillo convicted Moore following a nonjury trial in 2017. Moore, who served 44 days in county prison after her arrest, was placed on probation in September of that year.
Moore's parental rights to her two children were terminated. Curcillo barred her from having contact with any other children as well.
Keisha Moore's confession to police was voluntary and knowing, a state appeals court found.
Sep 20, 2017
An intellectually disabled Harrisburg mother won't serve any more time behind bars for plunging her 8-year-old son's hands into scalding hot water.
Nor is Keisha Moore likely to see her son ever again.
Moore, who spent 44 days in Dauphin County Prison after her arrest in 2013, was spared more jail time by Judge Deborah E. Curcillo during a sentencing hearing Wednesday morning.
After First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo and First Assistant Public Defender Ari Weitzman both leaned toward leniency, Curcillo ordered Moore to serve 10 years on probation.
Moore's parental rights to both of her children already have been terminated, Curcillo noted. She also ordered Moore not to have unsupervised contact with anyone else under 18.
"I don't even want you to have contact with children," the judge said.
The boy's injuries were so severe he was rushed to the Lehigh Valley Burn Center to treat his swollen and blistered hands. He spent more than two weeks in the hospital before going to live with a relative.
Testimony during Moore's trial revealed she has an IQ of 63, well below the 80 to 120 IQ range for the average adult.
During Wednesday's hearing, Chardo said he is convinced Moore is no longer a threat, especially since her son no longer is in her care.
Under normal circumstances, Moore is a "rule follower" who had no prior run-ins with the law, Weitzman said. "This was her only arrest. It's a very significant arrest. But it really goes against her character," he said.