Nanette and Michael Craver leave the York County Judicial Center on Nov. 18, 2011, after being sentenced for the manslaughter of their adopted son
Nanette and Michael Craver leave the York County Judicial Center on Nov. 18, 2011, after being sentenced for the manslaughter of their adopted son Nathaniel. (Bill Kalina)

A York County judge has agreed to expunge murder charges lodged against a former Dillsburg-area man who, along with his wife, stood trial for the death of their Russian-born adopted son.

Michael Craver, 48, now of Albrightsville, Carbon County, appeared Monday before Common Pleas Judge Craig T. Trebilcock for an expungement hearing.

At trial in September 2011, a jury acquitted Craver and his wife, Nanette Craver, 57, of first- and third-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit both offenses.

They'd been accused of fatally beating their 7-year-old son, Nathaniel Craver. The couple adopted Nathaniel and his sister from a Russian orphanage when the twins were 18 months old.

Manslaughter: Instead, jurors convicted the couple of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of child endangerment and conspiracy to commit all three charges. In November 2011, the Cravers were sentenced to time served, each having spent 567 days in York County Prison awaiting trial.

Michael Craver's attorney, Clasina Houtman, said Trebilcock has agreed to grant expungement on the murder and related conspiracy charges, as well as the original criminal homicide charge that police filed.

"When there is an acquittal, expungement is granted as a matter of law," she said.

Houtman said it's hoped that wiping Michael Craver's record clean of murder offenses will allow him to find a better job.

He and his wife still each owe more than $58,000 in court costs and fines, according to court records -- most of that for costs of prosecution.

The background: Nathaniel died at Hershey Medical Center on Aug. 25, 2009, after being removed from life support. He suffered more than 80 external injuries and died of complications due to traumatic brain injury.

The Cravers maintain Nathaniel was a very ill boy who suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, reactive-attachment disorder and other issues that caused him to frequently injure himself, both accidentally and deliberately.

Neither parent was in the room when Nathaniel hurt himself about 7 p.m. Aug. 19, 2009, according to the defense. The Cravers maintain they heard a loud noise and discovered the boy had struck his head, apparently on the family's pellet stove.

Nathaniel initially seemed not to be badly hurt, but at 4:30 the next morning the Cravers discovered he was in a coma and rushed him to the hospital, the defense said.

The prosecution maintains at least one of the parents caused Nathaniel's injuries and that both isolated the boy so no one would know.

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