Anna E. Karber, 24, of Fayette County, pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon in Fayette County Court of Common Pleas to involuntary manslaughter in the death of her 2-year-old son, LeRoy J. Toppins.
The child was found dead in a nearby pond the day after being reported missing from his Staunton-Sugar Grove Road home on the evening of April 3. Following an investigation by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Karber was indicted in August by a Fayette County grand jury on one count of involuntary manslaughter, a felony of the third degree, and one count of endangering children, a misdemeanor of the first degree. Involuntary manslaughter usually refers to an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence.
Results from LeRoy’s autopsy confirmed that drowning was the cause of his death and that there were no signs of foul play, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. The autopsy results and the investigative findings of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office were submitted to the prosecutor’s office for review before it went to the grand jury.
When LeRoy went missing on April 3 from his home, it prompted a search that included hundreds of volunteers before he was found dead the next day in a pond adjacent to the stone quarry on Staunton-Sugar Grove Road. “We believe the child wandered away, got too close to the water and fell in,” Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said on April 4.
The pond, which is located approximately 400 feet from the home, was about three feet deep at the time of the drowning. LeRoy’s body was found at around 6:40 p.m. April 4 on the bottom of the pond about three feet out from the shore.
Karber, represented by Washington C.H. attorney Brent Marshall, pleaded not guilty Monday while her family sat in the court in support. Neither Karber nor Marshall made any comments about the specifics of the case during or after Karber’s hearing.
Judge Steven Beathard set final pretrial hearings on Oct. 12 and Nov. 16 with the trial set for Dec. 10 at 8 a.m. Karber is required to check in with pretrial services every Monday until her trial.
According to Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade, evidence concerning LeRoy’s father, Dustin Toppins, was also presented to the grand jury, but no indictment was returned.