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Charges against Dumas upgraded to murder; Foster parent charged in child's 2019 death

Erie County District Attorney's Office

Charges were announced, including an upgraded count in one case, against defendants accused in separate incidents resulting in the death of a young child.

Robert Dumas, 35, was initially charged with assault in the beating of his girlfriend's toddler earlier this month. He is now charged with Murder in the Second Degree. His alleged victim, 17-month-old Simone Calhoun, died over the weekend.

"On Saturday, the little baby was taken off life support by the mother, and subsequently passed away," said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn in his office Tuesday morning.

An autopsy revealed the cause of the death to be "blunt impact to the head."  Dumas is now held without bail and is scheduled to appear in court Monday, September 28.

Meanwhile, Flynn announced the arraignment of a 29-year-old Buffalo man on one count of Manslaughter in the First Degree in the January 2019 death of six-year-old Byron Clark. Jermaine St. John is held on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court for a felony hearing Friday morning.

Flynn explained the defendant was working in a group home where the victim lived and took the child under his care. Without providing details, he stated the defendant allegedly engaged in an act of violently shaking Clark inside their Newburgh Avenue home early last year. The boy was taken to Oishei Children's Hospital, where he later died of injuries investigators say were caused by blunt force trauma.

Flynn spoke in a solemn tone when discussing Clark's short life. He explained the child was abandoned by his parents and moved among foster care situations until he ended up at the group home where St. John worked. The DA added that the child was well-liked by staff at the Buffalo public school he attended, but otherwise had a tough life.

"I'm not going to let this child's death go forgotten," he said. "This child will get justice, even though the child has no family. I will act for this child as his father and make sure he gets justice."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.