A murder charge against one of the two Summerville parents accused in the starving death of a disabled 13-year-old boy has been dropped.
Prosecutors still could pursue lesser charges against Jason Monroe Buckley, 32, after a grand jury did not return an indictment in his case earlier this month.
Buckley and his fiancee, Kimberly Marie Love, 32, were arrested more than a week after the death of Love’s son, Joshua Mendoza, on Feb. 10.
First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe said that he respected the 18-member jury’s finding and that he couldn’t discuss Love’s case because the murder charge against her remains unresolved.
Attempts to contact Love’s public defender, Mark Leiendecker, were not successful.
Joshua suffered tuberous sclerosis, a neurological disorder that caused seizures and benign tumors.
Family members have argued that the boy’s condition could have caused his death and that investigators made hasty arrests. But an autopsy revealed that malnourishment and neglect killed Joshua: He was only 48 pounds.
The boy could have lived a long life with the disease, the coroner insisted.
Family members said that Joshua had been a happy boy who would eat ravenously. But he struggled to maintain body weight, and a bout with the flu earlier this year wore him down, relatives said.
The family, however, had not brought the boy in for a medical checkup since 2006, according to authorities.
Buckley’s attorney, Blair Jennings, said Wednesday that he had been preparing a defense that centered on his client’s absence when Joshua took a grave turn. Buckley had been working out of a state.
“He was out of town for six to seven months prior to this,” Jennings said. “He was just home for Christmas when this happened.”
Jennings added that the S.C. Department of Social Services has an open case involving Buckley and Love, who had three other children living in their mobile home.