Warren Man Found Not Guilty In Child Drowning Case
WARREN, Pa. — A Warren County man charged in connection with the August 2020 drowning death of a 2-year-old in Hatch Run has been found not guilty.
Warren-based Pennsylvania State Police filed felony child endangerment charges against Nichol V. Barrett, 25, identified as the deceased 2-year-old child’s mother, and her husband, Richard Duane Barrett, 54 in the wake of the Aug. 17, 2020 incident.
Nichol Barrett has already pled guilty and was sentenced to six months in county prison.
The incident started with a call to police from a Schumann Rd. residence, approximately 45 minutes before the drowning was reported.
A resident reported “finding two small children and a dog in Hatch Run Creek, a short distance from the Conewango River,” police allege in the affidavit, a 5-year-old girl and 4-year-old male.
At 2:51 p.m., police say a call was forwarded to state police from Nichol Barrett.
“During this phone call,” police allege, Barrett “reported finding her daughter floating face down in Hatch Run
Troopers attempted CPR but the child was pronounced dead at Warren General Hospital and an autopsy determined the cause of death to be drowning.
The neighbor who found the two older children, four Pennsylvania State Police troopers, Coroner Melissa Zydonik and Barrett himself all took the stand.
In opening statements, District Attorney Rob Greene said there’s no way of knowing how much time or the exact distance the children traveled.
“A second is too long,” he said. “There’s no excuse.”
Barrett’s counsel, Eric Mikovch, said this is a case of “two horrific tragedies” – the death of a “beautiful girl” as well as the arrest of a man who did not commit a crime that day. He was highly critical throughout the trial of a perceived lack of a clear timeline for when the children went missing and the distances they respectively traveled.
“This was a horrific accidental drowning,” he said.
The jury went out for deliberations at 4:52 p.m. and returned at 5:31 p.m. with the not guilty verdict.
Barrett, a registered sexual offender, still faces three separate dockets pertaining to allegations of child sexual abuse.