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Parents of girls killed by dresser ordered to stand trial

David Beatty

CBS Pittsburgh

BEAVER, Pa. -- The parents of two young Pennsylvania girls who were killed when a dresser fell on top of them this summer have been ordered to stand trial, reports CBS Pittsburgh.

A judge Thursday ordered David Beatty, 28, to trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of 2-year-old Brooklyn and her 3-year-old sister, Ryeley, who were playing in the family's Aliquippa, Pa. home on July 4 just before they were pinned beneath the dresser.

Beatty also faces reckless endangerment charges along with his wife, Jennifer Beatty, 28, for allegedly keeping a filthy home.

During the preliminary hearing, David Beatty held his head down in his hands. Jennifer Beatty cried through most of the testimony.

"Mr. Beatty is devastated. He's a broken man," said Kevin Kindred, David's attorney.

According to David Beatty, the girls had been sitting on the edge of one of the dresser drawers watching television while he prepared a bath for them.

But prosecutors say his account of what he was doing in the bathroom and how long it took for him to respond to what he described as a "loud bang" changed several times.

The lead detective in the case, Sgt. Stephen Roberts, testified that David Beatty initially said he reacted within seconds. Later, he allegedly told investigators he was on the toilet and reacted within five minutes. And police say that story changed at one point to between 20 and 25 minutes before he checked to see what the noise was.

A forensic pathologist testified that had David reacted within 30 to 90 seconds both girls would have survived.

Kindred argued in court that the reckless endangerment charge should be dropped.

"Their doctor said this was an accident. He said that they had 30 seconds to get to these children or they were going to pass away. And there was no definite way of proving recovery," Kindred told CBS Pittsburgh.

Jennifer Beatty was not home when the incident occurred, but faces a charge of endangering the welfare of a child because of the condition of the house.

The station says photos were shown in court documenting unsanitary conditions at the Beatty home. They showed trash throughout the house, and human and animal feces on the floor, walls and baby crib.

Dale Fouse, Jennifer Beatty's attorney, said the mother should not have been charged.

"Quite frankly, it was a mess without question, but how that relates to a criminal charge, I just can't figure out and we're going to continue to defend vigorously against that allegation," Fouse said.