FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Child abuse and murder charges have been dropped against a former Army Special Forces soldier accused of beating his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter to death.
Zachary Keefer’s attorney Tony Buzzard confirms Keefer was released from the Cumberland County Detention Center earlier in November after spending more than three years in jail for those charges.
The toddler’s mother, Jeanie Ditty, remains in jail for the same charges. Her attorney, Bernard Condlin, said her trial is set to start in March.
On Dec. 2, 2015 officers responded to a 911 call for an unresponsive child at a Fayetteville apartment complex.
Macy Grace Ditty died in the hospital.
Court records show the child had bruises throughout her body, including head injuries from multiple impacts. She also had internal injuries like a lacerated liver.
“This is a horrible case all the way around,” Condlin said.
Ditty and Keefer were charged in March 2016 after the medical examiner’s report listed Macy’s death as a homicide.
Both attorneys say their clients never abused the child.
Condlin says Keefer was watching Macy when the abuse happened.
“Ms. Ditty left during that time frame to go to a doctor’s appointment,” Condlin said. “When she left, the baby was fine. When she came home, the baby wasn’t.”
Keefer’s attorney said the injuries happened before Keefer got there.
Prosecutor Julia Wolf Hejazi dropped Keefer’s charges saying in part:
“New medical information provides a clearer timeline of events and contradicts previous medical information…in the interest of justice, the state is dismissing these charges.”
“She’s very upset the case didn’t go to trial as scheduled,” Condlin said about his client.
Condlin said the doctor who provided the medical information listed as the reason for dropping the charges has since recanted that.
“Unfortunately, within 72 hours of that opinion, he called back the prosecutor and said that opinion is an error; that he made a mistake.”
The prosecutor has not given clarification on Condlin’s claims or if she still stands by her decision.
“As far as what happens with Mr. Keefer, that’s between the state and God. That’s out of my hands,” Condlin said. “His case being dismissed did not change anything for my client.”
Condlin said Ditty continued having a relationship with Keefer after Macy’s death, saying she believed her daughter died after aspirating.
Court records show that a few weeks after Macy’s death, Keefer was involved in an incident with his estranged wife that led to pending abuse and kidnapping charges in Harnett County.
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