LATEST: Arraignment set in Seneca County as two face murder charges

The indictment was filed moments before a press conference in Seneca Falls.

Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch said that he couldn’t comment on specifics of the circumstances — but a grand jury indicted Donald P. Bovio and Alison C. Bovio, both 38-years-old, on multiple charges — including  three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree manslaughter, and second-degree manslaughter.

The duo still faces charges of second-degree assault, reckless assault of a child, criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. On Friday, officials released an arraignment date for the two accused. Both will be arraigned on May 24th at 10 a.m.

Police identified the child as Panogiotis Stephanides-Vacchino, 3, who lived at the residence on Peterman Road in Seneca Falls. Chief Stuart Peenstra said that they were advised earlier in the day that the victim had been pronounced dead.

The exact cause of death will be confirmed by an autopsy performed by the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office in the very near future.

Police said that the child’s biological father did arrive at the hospital before the final life decisions were made. “A lot of tears were shed over the last several days,” explained District Attorney Barry Porsch, who said the duo each face a minimum of 15 years in prison if convicted on the murder charges.

“There were numerous assault and battery charges,” added Chief Peenstra, who said that Donald Bovio had a ‘violent tendency’. “We knew it was suspicious from the start,” added Peenstra after the press conference.

No date had yet been set for arraignment on the charges.

Watch the entire press conference below:

More Coverage from around the Finger Lakes

Mother, step-father indicted after death of Seneca Falls 3-year-old (CNY Central)
Abused SF boy dies, murder charges filed (FL Times)
Seneca Falls couple charged with murder after 3-year-old boy dies, police say (Syracuse.com)
Seneca Falls community mourns three-year-old’s death (WHAM)
Seneca Falls boy, 3, dies from child abuse; murder charges filed (WHAM)
UPDATE: Stepfather released from probation early prior to stepson’s death (WHEC)
Couple charged with murder after death of 3-year-old (WHEC)

Tuesday Update

It started as a medical call for a reported ‘fall’ at an apartment complex on Peterman Road in Seneca Falls.

The family involved was new to the area — having moved to Seneca Falls just two months ago, according to Seneca Falls Police Chief Stuart Peenstra. “They moved here from Salem, Massachusetts,” Peenstra said referring to the duo now charged with first-degree assault.

The medical call for that reported fall came in on May 12th around 11:40 p.m. According to the caller, who was one of the accused, the 3-year-old child fell down a set of stairs.

Peenstra said the child was unresponsive at the scene, and airlifted by LifeNet to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. While at the hospital — doctors said that the injuries sustained by the child were not consistent with that of a fall.

Charges were brought against Donald and Alison Bovio — both 38-years-old — following an investigation by Seneca Falls Police, Seneca County Child Protective Services, and New York State Police.

They were charged with first-degree assault, as the 3-year-old remains in critical condition — on life support at Upstate Medical. Court documents indicate that the 3-year-old was severely beaten by Donald and Alison — who was struck with a belt multiple times “intentionally causing his head to strike a hard floor surface.”

At that point the boy was knocked unconscious. Those same court documents state that the child is unable to breathe on his own — and has bleeding inside his brain.

Alison — who is the biological mother of the child — is accused of taking part in the assault on the young child. “The victim is unresponsive and has no brain activity as result of the injuries,” the court documents add.

The duo face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of assault charges.

Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch says that additional charges will be brought if the child does not survive. “Obviously there will be a murder charge,” he said on Tuesday during a press conference held by State Police and the Seneca Falls Police Department.

“It was a horrific scene to process,” explained Chief Peenstra, who said the entire investigation has taken its toll on his officers and first responders who were there that night.

Peenstra also noted that there was a criminal history; and that police had been there previously for a wellness check, which was a follow-up for a CPS case that started in Massachusetts.

Spectrum News reported that Massachusetts authorities informed them about several previous cases in which Bovio was charged.

In one particular case dating back to 2014, prosecutors charged Bovio with attempted murder after a woman claimed Bovio choked her to the point where she began to convulse. The victim told authorities Bovio then made her get a knife so he could carve a design on her stomach. The woman also said Bovio told her numerous times he was “crazy” and wanted to “kill her.” In the end, the district attorney’s office in Essex County in Massachusetts says the attempted murder charge was dropped, Bovio pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to probation.

Both Alison and Donald Bovio are being held at the Seneca County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 cash bail. They are scheduled to appear in court again on Friday at 5:30 p.m.

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