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DA: Jeffrey Deats is brain dead after found hanging in jail cell

Posted at 12:35 PM, Dec 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-24 12:44:45-05

A Batavia man charged in connection with the death of a 6-month-old baby is brain dead after attempting to commit suicide.

According to Genesee County District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, a CAT scan performed at ECMC showed Jeffrey Deats, 28, has no brain activity. Friedman is now asking Judge Robert Balbick to release Deats on his own recognizance.

Deats was found hanging from a bed sheet in his cell at the Genesee County Jail Sunday night. Corrections officers had checked on him nine minutes earlier.

Officers performed CPR on Deats before he was taken to United Memorial Medical Center. He was later transferred to ECMC.

Deats was arrested last Thursday in the death of 6-month-old Chandler Zuch and was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Around 9:45 a.m. on December 14, first responders arrived at a home on Olyn Avenue for reports of an unresponsive infant that was not breathing. Chandler was rushed to United Memorial Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 11:20 a.m.

Detectives say Chandler had been left in Deats' care by the infant's mother, Michelle Zuch, on December 13. Chandler had last been seen alive around 6:30 a.m. the following morning and a call was placed by Deats and another family member at 9:30 a.m. to first responders about Chandler not breathing.

The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy on December 15 and found Chandler suffered multiple injuries to the brain, causing death. A further exam will be conducted at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

Police interviewed Deats as well as other witnesses and collected evidence. Detectives later arrested Deats for second degree manslaughter for recklessly causing the infant's death.

According to court documents obtained by 7 Eyewitness News, Deats gave different stories to police, finally saying he fell down stairs while carrying the baby.

But contradicting that was a statement from Jacqueline Deats, the defendant's mother.

She told detectives that the baby had been restless all night, but around 6 a.m. on Sunday, she heard the child crying "really hard, like he was screaming." Shortly afterwards, Jacqueline Deats said she heard her son thumping down the stairs with the baby in disheveled clothes.

The child's grandmother said she noticed red marks on Chandler's stomach and that the baby was barely breathing. She added that her son was very upset saying, "He has been up all night and I need to sleep."

Jeffrey Deats then put the child down on a couch and said, "Now you go to sleep, you God damn bastard."
In her statement to Batavia Police, Jacqueline Deats said the baby's feet and hands were very cold, but she was afraid to call for help because of what her son might do.

The statement added that Jeffrey Deats tried to perform CPR hours later on the unresponsive child before 911 was dispatched around 9:45 a.m. Chandler Zuch was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Jeffrey Deats has a criminal history, including menacing and criminal contempt.

A neighbor who lives down the street from his mother's Olyn Avenue home said Deats threatened to kill her last year, while having what appeared to be a pistol in his pocket.

Deats was being held on $50,000 cash bail in the Genesee County Jail when he attempted to commit suicide. He had been scheduled to return to court on December 24 at 10:30 a.m.

A YouCaring.com memorial fundraiser has been started to help cover the cost of Chandler's medical care and funeral. His mother, Michelle Zuch, has worked with Kidsabilities for over four years as a teacher in the infant room at all three of the day care locations.

Chandler attended the Tonawanda location and is described as a "very happy and active baby." In the YouCaring.com post, the fundraiser organizer wrote, "God has a plan for everyone, and he has some big plans for Chandler with him up in heaven."

If you would like to donate, you can do so here.

7 Eyewitness News has learned there are paternity issues in this case and that Deats, though identified by police as Chandler's father, may not be the child's biological father.