SPRINGVILLE — On March 22, 16-year-old Dylan Schumaker of Springville pled not guilty to charges of second-degree murder in Springville Village Court, where he appeared in front of Springville Justice Kelly O’Neal Adams.
Schumaker has been accused of beating 23-month-old Austin Smith to death. The defendant, who has been charged as an adult, waived his right to a felony hearing, during his arraignment.
According to representatives for the Erie County District Attorney, his case will now be moved to Erie County Court, where a grand jury will vote on whether to indict the defendant.
Schumaker remains at the Erie County Holding Center in downtown Buffalo, where he is being held without bail.
According to Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, Schumaker had been babysitting Austin at their Cochran Avenue residence, while Ashlee Smith, his 19-year-old girlfriend and the child’s mother, went to work at a local restaurant. The pair had lived in the upstairs apartment of Schumakers’ parents’ house for several weeks.
“The mother had been kicked out of her former residence probably six weeks, two months ago and was living with the boyfriend’s family,” Howard said. Smith told the sheriff’s deputies that she and Schumacker had been dating “on and off” for about three years.
“The 19-year-old woman and the 16-year-old male were living in the upstairs, three-room apartment. The child was crying. But, in fact, there’s no explanation for why anyone would strike a child,” Howard added.
At about 8:20 p.m., the teenager saw that Austin had stopped breathing and alerted his mother, who was downstairs in the residence, according to Howard. The teen used his cell phone to call 911 and was waiting outside for the police, when they arrived.
Deputies Ben Pisa, Jason Bouton and Don Hoelscher were called to the residence for an unresponsive child. The deputies arrived on the scene and found Austin in a bedroom, where they performed resuscitation efforts, before paramedics arrived to transport the child to Bertrand Chaffee Hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. An autopsy later confirmed that Austin, who Howard said had bruises on his head, died of blunt force trauma to the head. Kristopher Trenary, 3 months old, had also been in the suspect’s supervision. He was not harmed.
Howard called Austin’s death “an unspeakable tragedy.
“If a caretaker ever finds themselves in a situation in which they felt they might be losing control, contact someone,” Howard said. “Call a friend, a family member, a neighbor, anyone. Contact crisis services. The call will be confidential. No one will know and it could save a life.”