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Port Jervis dad's lawyer: No medical evidence baby was smothered

Brett Kanoff, left, is accused of killing his

Brett Kanoff, left, is accused of killing his 13-month-old baby, Carmeon Kanoff, right. Photo Credit: Port Jervis PD; Handout

A 22-year-old Port Jervis man accused of suffocating his 13-month-old son pleaded not guilty in Orange County Court Wednesday and his lawyer said the prosecution has no medical evidence to support its theory that the infant was smothered.

Judge Nicholas De Rosa set bail at $100,000 and the father, Brett Kanoff, was returned to Orange County Jail.

Kanoff faces two counts of murder and two counts of manslaughter in indictments unsealed Tuesday. Prosecutors allege that he used a blanket to smother the infant, Cameron Louis Kanoff, on Sept. 24.

But Kanoff's defense lawyer, David Hoovler, said the prosecution had no evidence indicating the child was strangled or forcibly asphyxiated.

"There's no medical evidence . . . that gives them a real strong case and because of that, the judge set a relatively low bail for a murder case."

Hoovler said bail in murder cases is more typically set at $500,000 to $1 million.

Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillips declined to comment on the issues of bail and medical evidence in the case.

"Their theory simply is that the baby was colicky and (Brett Kanoff), being a tired young parent, somehow smothered the child," Hoovler said.

The defense lawyer said a trial "probably" would evolve into a battle of prosecution and defense experts providing opinions on why Brett Kanoff could have, or could not have, smothered his son.

Paramedics and police arrived at Kanoff's Ball Street home after receiving an emergency call about a child who was not breathing. Cameron, the child of Brett Kanoff and Samantha Finch Kanoff, was rushed to Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis, where he was pronounced dead.

The indictment accuses Brett Kanoff of second-degree murder for causing the baby's death intentionally; second-degree murder for causing the death by depraved indifference; first-degree manslaughter by recklessly causing the death of someone less than 11 years old; and second-degree manslaughter by recklessly causing the death.

A different legal theory underpins each of the four homicide counts, and Kanoff can be found guilty of only one of the four charges.

The second-degree murder charges carry a maximum sentence of 25 years to life. First-degree manslaughter carries a maximum 25-year-sentence, and second-degree manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.

He also is charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Cameron's twin brother, Caleb Burton Kanoff, died at birth, police said.

Brett Kanoff's next scheduled court date is Nov. 27 for a conference, Hoovler said.

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