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Melissa L. Gonyo

Authorities believe a Chazy mother left her infant unattended in a dangerous position and was sleeping when the boy later suffocated.

Melissa L. Gonyo, 21, gave birth to twins in spring 2010 and is now facing charges for allegedly recklessly causing the death of one of those babies.

Gonyo was recently indicted on charges of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the September 2010 death of her son, Zachary Whalen.

BACK IN COURT

Gonyo appeared in Clinton County Court Monday to face the charges, but her arraignment was adjourned until she could appear before Judge Kevin Ryan with an attorney present.

Shackled and in a jailhouse jumpsuit, Gonyo reappeared in court Tuesday afternoon after having Plattsburgh attorney Mark Anderson assigned to her case.

After discussing the charges with Anderson and Chief Assistant District Attorney Timothy Blatchley, Ryan decided to keep Gonyo's bail amount at $30,000 cash or $60,000 bond, pending a bail hearing Thursday morning.

Gonyo did not speak during the brief appearance and showed no reaction to the judge's decision before she was escorted back to Clinton County Jail.

LEFT IN CHAIR

Police believe Gonyo woke up with Zachary, changed his diaper and gave him a bottle of water.

When the baby fell asleep, they say, Gonyo propped him in the corner of a chair with his blanket and bottle in the living room at the home on Route 9 where she was living at the time.

She then went back upstairs and returned to bed, leaving Zachary on the chair unattended, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Tuesday in a news release.

Several hours later, at about 8:30 a.m., the baby's father, Jonathan Whalen, woke up, showered and went to check on Zachary. That's when he found his 6-month-old son dead, Wylie said.

'RECKLESS ACTION'

Gonyo is not accused of intentionally causing her son's death but with acting recklessly when she left him unattended in the potentially dangerous position.

State Police are continuing to investigate the boy's death and said charges could still be filed against Whalen.

It was unclear Tuesday who now has custody of their other child, Zoe.

Several of Gonyo's supporters were in court Tuesday, but they declined to comment on the case.

UNDER TREATMENT

In requesting a reduced bail amount Tuesday, Anderson noted that a Family Court proceeding was launched against Gonyo after the baby's death and that she has made all prior related court appearances.

He also said that Gonyo, a lifelong local resident, now resides with her father in Beekmantown and would continue treatment at Conifer Park Outpatient Clinic if released.

While Ryan said he is not opposed to reduced bail, he opted to continue the $30,000 cash status pending Thursday's hearing and further discussions with prosecutors and members of the county's pre-trial release program.

Blatchley had argued to keep the stiffer amount, calling it reasonable in light of the "very, very serious charge" against Gonyo, who has a prior arrest history on DWI and probation-violation charges.

Gonyo faces up to 15 years behind bars if convicted of the manslaughter charge.

Email Andrea VanValkenburg at: avanvalkenburg@pressrepublican.com

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