A 17-year-old Lusby mother who authorities allege killed her infant son in August by stuffing a pair of socks in his mouth because he wouldn't stop crying will remain in an adult jail as she awaits further proceedings on abuse and murder charges.
Calvert County District Judge Stephen L. Clagett ruled Thursday during a preliminary hearing that there was probable cause to believe that Samantha S. Staycoff killed 3-month-old Joel W. Kozlouski as he lay in his crib Aug. 28.
Staycoff's attorney, public defender Sheila J. Sullivan, had asked Clagett whether Staycoff could be moved to a juvenile jail, but Clagett denied the request, saying she will remain at the Calvert County Detention Center in Barstow.
At the hearing, Sullivan also withdrew a motion claiming that Staycoff, formerly a Patuxent High School senior, was not criminally responsible. Such a motion raises issues of whether a defendant was suffering from any mental deficiencies at the time of the crime. Staycoff is charged with first-degree child abuse and second-degree murder.
In her comments before the court, Sullivan said that prosecutors have, "at best," a manslaughter case and that Staycoff was "intimidated" when she was interviewed by authorities Oct. 20 at the Calvert County Sheriff's Office. Sullivan declined to comment about that assertion after the hearing.
Staycoff entered the courtroom wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and was in wrist and leg shackles. She sat motionless throughout the hearing, during which Calvert County Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Morton questioned Cpl. Rosemary King of the Calvert Investigative Team.
King said she talked to Staycoff at Calvert Memorial Hospital, where the infant was taken for emergency treatment. King testified that Staycoff said she had gone in to check on her son and saw that his color was off. King said Staycoff seemed "very calm" when she recounted the events.
Then, on Oct. 20, after autopsy results showed that the child had died from asphyxiation, King said she interviewed Staycoff again, this time at the sheriff's office, and Staycoff told her the same story. But, King said, when confronted with the medical examiner's findings, Staycoff told of how she had killed the boy.
According to King's testimony, Staycoff told King that she put her son in his crib at 9 p.m. Aug. 27 but that he woke up in the middle of the night, crying. About 3 a.m., sleepy and frustrated that the infant would not stop crying, Staycoff placed a pair of the baby's socks, which were rolled together, in his mouth. She then pulled two "Winnie the Pooh" blankets over the boy's face, King said.
King testified that autopsy results showed the baby also had suffered a broken rib and revealed signs of a previous asphyxiation.
Debbie Wanless of Parkville is an aunt of the baby's father, John Kozlouski, 18, who lives in Baltimore County. "I'm very happy that they're leaving her where she is because she knew what she was doing," Wanless said in an interview.
Staycoff's mother, Sheila Staycoff, was in the courtroom earlier in the day but left before the hearing began. Sheila Staycoff's boyfriend was at the hearing but declined to comment.
Meanwhile, court papers show that the Calvert County Department of Social Services had been monitoring Staycoff and her care of the child. An employee at the agency told King that a previous allegation of child abuse -- in which it was reported that Staycoff placed a pillow over the baby's face in June -- had been found by the agency to be unsubstantiated. The agency has declined to comment on the case.
The case will go to the Calvert County Circuit Court. The state's attorney's office must decide whether to file a criminal information, similar to an indictment, or take the case before a grand jury.