York County DA mulls new charges after shaken baby dies 23 years later

One of the 27 York County homicides recorded last year — the highest number in 10 years — was a young man at the center of a notorious shaken baby case.

The District Attorney's Office is now considering if it will bring additional charges against Carson McCord's father.

The York County Coroner's Office said in its yearly report released Tuesday, Jan. 30, that McCord died on April 6 from the blunt-force trauma injuries he suffered as an infant nearly 24 years ago.

At 11 weeks old, McCord suffered severe brain damage while under his father's care at his Dover Township residence in June 1994, The York Dispatch reported at the time.

Carson McCord. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Acworth.

His father, Vincent McCord, now 59, was allowed into the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition diversionary program after a mistrial, and he was on probation for three years. He had to pay restitution, medical bills and other court costs.

Homicide: The York County Coroner's Office listed Carson McCord's death as a homicide in its end-of-the year report. He died in York Township on April 6 at the age of 23, the report states.

It is not immediately clear if Vincent McCord will face new charges in his son's death.

Northern York County Regional Police, which filed initial charges against Vincent McCord, deferred comment to the York County District Attorney's Office.

DA's office spokesman Kyle King said Thursday, Feb. 1, that the matter is still under review.

Kimberly Acworth, Carson McCord's mother, said there are pending situations regarding the homicide, but declined to go into specifics.

Former Common Pleas  judge Tom Kelley, who was the prosecutor in Vincent McCord's case in the 1990s, said Friday, Feb. 2, that it's possible he could see additional charges.

Even though Vincent McCord has been tried for charges of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, he was never tried for homicide, which is why charges could still be filed, Kelley said.

“If Dave Sunday’s staff reopens that, I will really give them kudos, because this is not an easy case," he said.

Kelley said it would be hard to convince a jury on the case because Vincent McCord has been tried for the same actions, but this time it would be for a different outcome.

“You get into all these issues that are just real tough issues for a jury," he said.

Vincent McCord could not be reached for comment Friday.

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The case: Carson McCord was taken to Hershey Medical Center on June 10, 1994, hours after Acworth, found him in his bassinet, unresponsive and breathing irregularly, The York Dispatch reported at the time.

Vincent McCord said Carson McCord fell off a couch onto a hardwood floor. Doctors who testified during Vincent McCord's trial said Carson McCord's injuries were consistent with being shaken until he stopped breathing.

Charged with recklessly endangering a child's welfare and aggravated assault, Vincent McCord's first trial resulted in a mistrial after jurors couldn't come to a decision on his reckless endangerment charges.

The decision on the aggravated assault charge was not heard.

That trial took place in September 1995.

In March 1996, a new trial was ordered for him, but he never had a second trial.

After the state Superior Court ruled that he could not be retried on his aggravated assault and a reckless endangerment charge, Vincent McCord entered the ARD program in May 1998. 

Defendants are not required to admit guilt to be admitted into ARD.

He was ordered to spend three years on probation, pay $13,000 in unpaid child support and medical bills and perform 35 hours of community service.

Unlike most ARD cases, Vincent McCord's criminal record was not expunged after he served his probationary sentence. 

Kelley said the agreement, which was approved by Acworth, was chosen so Vincent McCord's insurance could cover his son's medical expenses. If Vincent McCord were in prison, he would be unemployed and wouldn't be able to do so.

At the time, Vincent McCord was a federal bank examiner.

Kelley, now a private attorney, said the case still sticks with him more than 20 years later.

"I'll never get over that case, it was the hardest thing I've ever done," he said.

It was tough for him, he said, because he could see how Carson McCord was affected.

"It was essentially a murder without him dying," he said.

Kelley said he still keeps in touch with Acworth.

“They gave him the best quality of life they possibly could, I know that," he said.

Carson McCord at age 22 in March 2016.  Photo courtesy of Kimberly Acworth.

Carson: Acworth, owner of Indulge Salon, which has two locations in York County, said it hasn't been easy for her in the 10 months since her son's death.

"I miss him so much," she said.

Acworth said Carson lived much longer than doctors expected. He died two weeks after his 23rd birthday.

She said her son was always happy and laughing. Nurses read to him, he listened to music, and he even attended school.

She kept him in school until he was 21. He graduated from Lincoln Intermediate Unit. He spent two days home-schooled and two days at Lincoln, she said.

“I wanted him to be as educated as possible," she said, adding he had an intuitive side.

Carson McCord also required frequent care. Acworth said her son needed to be taken out of bed every two hours. His hair and nails were cut every three weeks, she said.

Acworth said she was always willing to have her son try new things, looking for a "glimmer of hope." She said even though he was considered blind, there would be moments where it looked as though he saw something.

“I could watch his eyes move and know that he is listening,” she said.

Acworth said she would read for her son, and that he loved Thomas the Tank Engine. She said her son, who was like a 5-month-old, liked to be touched, and his family members would hold him close.

"He would feel very comfortable," she said.

She said Carson would recognize her and his nurses.

“We had so much fun in daily living," she said.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser