PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man accused of not calling 911 when the mother of his toddler son sent him videos of the boy's lifeless body during hours' worth of angry text messages is headed to trial on child endangerment charges.
Andre Price Jr., 24, of McKeesport, waived a preliminary hearing Monday.
Defense attorney James Sheets said Price is still mourning the death of his 17-month-old son, Andre III. Sheets told The Associated Press that the boy's mother, Christian Clark, had made similar, but empty, threats before to kill the boy and the couple's 2-year-old daughter, Angel.
"This is the little boy who cried wolf," Sheets said, referring to Clark. "On any number of occasions Miss Clark had threatened the life of his children, and he had family members or friends check on them and they were fine."
Clark's attorney, Milton Raiford, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. Clark remains jailed awaiting trial on homicide, attempted homicide, assault and endangerment charges.
Raiford previously said his client waived her preliminary hearing so testimony about the grisly case wouldn't be amplified in the media and prejudice future jurors. Sheets said he had similar concerns in waiving Price's hearing.
Allegheny County police contend Clark sent a barrage of angry texts, threats, photos and videos Nov. 1 because she believed Price planned to be with another woman. Sheets contends Price went to his sister's after work to avoid rekindling an argument he had with Clark.
"Ya kids ain't safe here I don't want them here" and "Answer me or im going to jail for child endangerment" were among dozens of texts listed in the criminal complaint. Then came a message about an hour into the rant that said, "I'm killing them," followed by a laughing emoji with tears coming from its eyes, police said.
Clark called 911 more than an hour later, at Price's urging, and police found the lifeless boy. Clark first claimed not to know how he died, then confessed to smothering him, police said. Clark is also charged with trying to smother Angel.
Sheets told the AP that Clark had sent pictures or videos of the children's limp bodies before, which is why Price didn't take them seriously at first.
County police noted in their criminal complaint that Price also didn't alert authorities when Clark texted him pictures of her holding the children by the throat around Andre III's first birthday. Price posted those pictures to Facebook with a caption that said: "These two pictures she is choking them because was (sic) ain't together ...."
Sheets said those posts supports his claim that Clark had threatened the children previously but didn't physically harm them.
Price still has court-supervised visits with his daughter, who is living with a relative, Sheets said.
"I feel as though the loss of his son makes him a victim just as much as the young man that lost his life," Sheets said.
This story has been corrected to show that Andre Price Jr. is 24, not 23.