Winooski Mother Pleads Not Guilty in the Murder of her Son

By Kristen Tripodi

Published 05/28 2014 07:04PM

Updated 05/28 2014 07:39PM

Credit: Peighton Memorial Fund
BURLINGTON, Vt.-  A mother pleads not guilty, in the death of her young son. In court Wednesday, Peighton Geraw's mother, Nytosha Laforce answered to charges of second degree murder.

Peighton was pronounced dead less than an hour after a DCF worker visited his home.

The 14 month old died April 4th; court documents reveal since then the baby's mother Nytosha Laforce and her boyfriend Tyler Chicoine have placed the blame on the other.

The medical examiner’s report shows Peighton died from trauma to the head and neck. And after weeks of interviews Chicoine told police he saw Laforce shake Peighton and slam his head on the floor to get him to stop crying.

“We feel that the statement that Tyler Chicoine provided was true and accurate and detailed the accounts of what happened to Peighton Geraw,” said Sgt. Michael Warren, Director of CUSI.

Laforce was already in custody for a parole violation when police charged her with second degree murder.
She stood quiet in court Wednesday as a lawyer entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.

“We are still investigating a lot of material that we've gathered over the last five plus weeks. We have not yet made a determination what charges will be filed - if charges will be filed in reference to Tyler Chicoine,” said Warren.

Police continue to piece together the last week of the toddler’s life. Two days before his death Laforce and Chicoine took Peighton to the hospital claiming he was lethargic and was vomiting. Doctors noticed he had bruises and contacted the department for children and families. Peighton returned home with his mother.

“There were very few people who had contact with Peighton from Wednesday the day the child went to the hospital and Friday the day that the child died,” said Warren.

Police believe Peighton suffered the injuries that killed him shortly before a DCF worker arrived for a home visit.  Court documents show the worker was there for about 25 minutes. The case worker told police Peighton appeared to be sleeping.

“A 911 call was made at 1:41 pm, EMT arrives at the residence at approximately 1:44 pm, Peighton has no pulse at that time. he arrives at the hospital at 2:06 pm and is pronounced dead,” said TJ Donovan, Chittenden County States Attorney.

Second degree murder charge carries a minimum sentence of 20 years to life and for now Laforce is being held without bail.

Vermont State Police is now investigating the timeline of Peighton's life, beginning with his birth through his death. The investigation will also include DCF's involvement.

Chittenden County States Attorney TJ Donovan says that investigation will look into DCF's involvement throughout Peighton's life.
Here's what we know so far according to court records:

-Peighton was born in January 2013
-A few months’ later police say his mother violated parole by traveling to New Hampshire.
-Shortly after Peighton was placed into child services
-Then DCF granted Laforce's mother custody of Peighton. 
-After Laforce completed a parenting class DCF gave her custody again in October
-The case was closed in January of this year.
Then DCF didn't have contact with Peighton again until April when he was brought to the hospital with bruises.

 DCF commissioner Dave Yacovone gave us this statement Wednesday, saying:

"I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of Peighton Geraw. While I am prohibited from commenting on the details of this case, I can and will do everything I can to provide information to inform the reviews currently underway. The department is seeking technical assistance from the National Resource Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare to strengthen our response when the safety of children is impacted by substance abuse. I am committed to ensuring that DCF is doing everything possible to keep Vermont children safe".

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