By Chris May
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Larry Atwell, 44, was in an Atlantic County Courtroom this month facing charges in the death of Cory Sechtin. Cory was just a year old when he died from a mysterious head injury. He was alone with Larry Atwell when it happened.
“How are you feeling about this?” asked CBS 3′s Chris May.
“So far, so good,” said Cory’s mother, Molly Morton. She has suffered through the loss of her son and through countless delays in her search for justice.
Cory died in September 2010 with the Atlantic County Medical Examiner citing a brain hemorrhage and detached retinas and listing the manner of his death a homicide. Yet a year and eight months went by with no arrest and no trial.
Getting no answers from prosecutors, Molly was at her wit’s end. It was then she reached out to 3 On Your Side.
“I just want a final answer. Are you gonna arrest somebody or are you not gonna arrest somebody?” she asked.
We aired her story in April.
“The next day I had the phone call,” said Morton. “From the time that the story aired on your news broadcast, so less than 24 hours later, I at least had a meeting, and that made me feel pretty good.”
In that meeting, officials told Morton her son’s case was delayed by time-consuming evaluations of medical records and even personnel changes in the prosecutor’s office. But they promised action.
“I was told that we are moving forward. This is going to go to the grand jury,” said Morton.
On June 28, that grand jury returned an indictment against Larry Atwell in the death of Cory Sechtin.
Atwell claims the boy injured himself when he climbed to the top of a tall slide and fell off head first. Atwell’s attorney, John Zarych, calls it a tragic accident.
“The injury was caused by head trauma. We don’t doubt that, but no doctor has opined that my client caused this death,” said Zarych.
But Molly Morton has never believed that. She says her son, just two weeks past his first birthday, was unable to walk, let alone climb. Now she’s prepared to let a jury decide what really happened.
“This piece of paper, this indictment, what does it mean in your search for justice for Cory?” Chris May asked.
“I think it takes a weight off your shoulders. Hopefully justice will be served, and he’ll have to pay for my son’s death,” Morton said.
Larry Atwell faces charges of aggravated manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child. He has pleaded not guilty.
Atwell is out on bail. His next court hearing is later this month.
Prosecutors declined our request for an interview.