Eric Clapper Sr. and Heather Almoney
Eric Clapper Sr. and Heather Almoney

Murder charges have been dropped against a York City man accused of allowing his infant son to die of malnutrition and dehydration.

On Monday in York County Court, senior deputy prosecutor Amy Eyster withdrew charges of first- and third-degree murder against Eric John Clapper Sr., but added a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Clapper was then released on supervised bail, according to court records.

Because of the age of baby Eric Clapper Jr., the manslaughter charge is a second-degree felony. Eric Jr. died Nov. 12, 2011, from lack of food and water, officials allege. He was about 2-1/2 months old.

The baby's mother, Heather Almoney, remains locked up and charged with first- and third-degree murder.

"Her competency evaluation has not been completed yet," Eyster said.

The prosecutor said a competency evaluation done on Clapper answered some questions she had about his ability to stand trial, but other questions remain.

Limitations? However, she confirmed she learned enough from that evaluation to withdraw murder charges and add the manslaughter charge.

"I'm trying to determine what, if any, are the true (mental) limitations" of the defendants, Eyster said. She said she's waiting for more reports from mental-health professionals about both defendants.

Clapper is represented by first assistant public defender Clasina Houtman. Almoney is represented by attorney Clarence Allen, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

The attorneys maintain their clients are mildly retarded.

Houtman said Clapper's evaluation questions whether he's competent to stand trial.

"I'm happy with this action by the district attorney's office," she said. "I believe it was the right thing to do, based on my client's mental capabilities."

Clapper, 33, and Almoney, 31, both of the 100 block of Edgar Street, are scheduled to return to court on May 17 for a status hearing.

The allegations: Dr. Jonathan Liss, a York Hospital neonatologist and director of its neonatal intensive-care unit, testified at the couple's preliminary hearing in August that Eric Jr. was born nine weeks premature and weighed 3 pounds, 6 ounces.

He spent a little more than a month in intensive care, and by the time he was discharged he weighed 5 pounds, 2 ounces, was able to feed normally and was able to alert adults he was hungry, according to Liss.

"He was a healthy, growing pre-term baby," the doctor testified.

At the time of Eric Jr.'s death, he should have weighed about 7 pounds, but only weighed 3 pounds, 10 ounces and was "emaciated," Liss testified.

Testimony revealed Eric Jr. had no food in his system, and no fecal matter, either. The infant's level of emaciation could not have happened in a few days' time, according to Liss.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.