Schenectady County

Murder indictment returned in death of 20-month-old Schenectady boy

John J. Batease faces charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.

The man identified as the “focus” in the investigation into a Schenectady child’s death in June was arraigned today on murder and manslaughter charges contained in a grand jury indictment.

John J. Batease, 32, appeared in Schenectady County Court this morning to be arraigned on the charges — second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter — stemming from the death of 20-month-old Asiah Maxam.

Batease, who used a manila envelope to shield his face from a photographer today, has been held on unrelated felony contempt charges since the June 19 death of the child.

The indictment charging him with the boy’s murder was unsealed in court in Batease’s presence, by Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago.

Batease immediately became the focus of the investigation into the child’s death after he carried Asiah out of 611 Hattie St. on June 19 and asked neighbors to summon paramedics. Batease had been described as the boyfriend of Asiah’s mother at the time.

Batease allegedly told neighbors the boy had fallen from a crib. An autopsy, though, determined the death was a homicide.

Prosecutors were not immediately available this morning to discuss the investigation, but Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney previously said investigators had to examine all the possibilities in the case before reaching a conclusion.

In July, Drago set Batease’s bail on the contempt charges at $35,000. Batease has been unable to make that bail and remained in custody.

The first contempt charge stems from allegations the morning after the child’s death after Batease spoke with investigators. After the police interview concluded, he asked to make a phone call. An investigator gave Batease a cellphone, and Batease called the mother of his own child. But he had been ordered by a judge to have no contact with the woman.

There was a conversation, prosecutors said, but investigators quickly realized whom Batease had called and arrested him.

Batease has been arrested 20 times, charged with eight felonies and convicted of two. He also has been cited for failing to appear in court four times and has a criminal record in Virginia from 2000-02.

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