Defense: No evidence of sexual abuse in babysitter's death

NORWICH – The murder trial of George Ford Jr. began Monday with the defense claiming there’s no evidence to support any sexual misconduct in what they say was the accidental death of a 12-year-old girl.

Ford, 43, of Piscataway, N.J., is charged with second degree murder in the July 2007 death of 12-year-old babysitter Shyanne Somers of Otselic. Ford has waived his right to a jury trial, electing instead to have the verdict decided solely by Broome County Judge Joseph F. Cawley.

On objection to the prosecution’s line of questioning, the defense raised a pressing point on the very first witness called.

“There isn’t a single stitch or thread of evidence that any sexual abuse took place,” said attorney Randel Scharf of Cooperstown.

Scharf went on to report that the Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police had searched the alleged crime scene and subjected his client to multiple medical examinations which failed to yield any evidence of inappropriate contact. The prosecution has suggested that Ford deliberately ran over the girl with his truck to keep her from telling what had happened between them that night.

During the day’s proceedings, District Attorney Joseph A. McBride had Chenango County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Richard M. Cobb read the entire five-page statement signed by Ford just over four hours after he arrived at Chenango Memorial Hospital with the victim’s body on July 8, 2007.

Cobb said he asked Ford to explain what had happened on the night of the incident. The following was his response, according to the written statement:

“My wife and I were at a party and I went home. I picked up Jim Somers’ daughter from her house to baby-sit so my wife and I could go back to the party. When my wife got home, she decided not to go back to the party, so I was taking the girl back home.

“I don’t remember the girl’s name right now, but she is about 13-years-old. She lives about 3/4 to half a mile away from me on State Route 26. We were in my truck and talking about the horses that I own. I decided to take her to see them.

“I board the horses in a pasture on Warner Road that Chris Frantz owns. The pasture is about 3/4 to half a mile from State Route 26. The girl was in the front passenger seat of my truck.

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