Jury finds Akron mother, Heather Lerch, guilty of murder in meth death of toddler son

Lerch will face 15 years to life in prison

AKRON, Ohio - A Summit County jury found an Akron mother guilty in connection with the death of her 17-month-old son who overdosed on meth inside a Goodyear Heights home.

Heather Lerch, 21, was found guilty of murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangering. She was found not guilty on various drug charges.

She will be sentenced Sept. 25 at 9 a.m. before Judge Tom Parker. Prosecutors said she will face 15 years to life in prison.

"Her life is over and her child's life is over and no winners in this situation," Assistant Prosecutor Greg Peacock said.

The Summit County Medical Examiner said Patrick Lerch died from ingesting a high amount of meth. In a statement, the medical examiner said the boy "ingested meth during a period of abuse and neglect."

Last February, police said they found bottles and chemicals, used for meth-making, in the basement of a St. Leger home, where Lerch's boyfriend, Randy Legg, lived.

Prosecutors said Lerch put the child in grave danger by allowing him to live in a home where meth was being manufactured.

"It was rat-infested. It was a filthy, cold basement where a drug addict and a meth cook were just hanging out," Peacock said.

Two of the jurors cried as the verdicts were read. Lerch sobbed throughout the proceedings.

"Whether she's sorry for what happened to her or sorry for what happened to Patrick, I can't make a distinction between the two," said Detective Gary Shadie, who investigated the crime.

Other people are facing charges in connection with the toddler's death.

Ronald Legg, 22,  is charged with murder is and scheduled to stand trial on September 24.

Randy Legg, 19, is scheduled to go on trial October 4 for involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and several drug charges.

Allen Kostra, 25,  pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges and testified against Lerch.

The defense argued that Lerch made bad decisions, but that doesn't make her responsible for the death of the child.

Kimberly and Daniel Clark are distant relatives of Lerch and allowed her to stay in their Barberton home with Patrick.

They lived there for three months before moving to the Akron home, Kimberly said.

Kimberly said Lerch wasn't a good mother but didn't suspect she was involved in meth.

During an interview with NewsChannel5 last February, Kimberly said, "I'm just devastated. He was the sweetest baby you'd ever want to meet. I want her to get the full punishment of the law," Kimberly said.

Kimberly called Barberton police in January after she noticed Patrick had a black eye.

A Barberton officer filed a call for service report and noted he did not see any obvious signs of abuse.

Lerch told the officer that Patrick was hurt from falling on a toy.

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