Stepmother who police said put boy in scalding-hot bath will stand trial

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PITTSBURGH - A stepmother who police said put a 4-year-old boy in a bathtub filled with scalding-hot water, causing second-degree burns, will stand trial.

Jessye Cole was in court on Thursday, where a veteran detective testified he “never saw anything like that.”

A doctor who treated the boy said the 4-year-old’s burns were inflicted and life-threatening.  He added the boy’s pain was immense even after taking large doses of morphine.

Police said Cole put the boy in the tub as punishment for bad behavior last month.

“I’m very angry.  I’m happy she’s still in jail,” said the boy’s biological mother.

Defense attorney Blaine Jones tried to show the burns were accidental.

“There were no signs of a struggle -- nothing on the shoulders and on the head to demonstrate the child was submerged underwater," he said.

Cole told authorities the boy stepped in dog waste in the Mon View Heights home.  She said she turned on the shower, so he could clean up and left the bathroom.

Cole said she treated him with over-the-counter ointments but didn’t take him to a hospital until the next day.

The boy’s father, Tom Cole, is also charged with endangerment.  He wasn’t home when his son was burned, but police said he also didn’t seek immediate help.   Charges against him were also held for trial.

The boy is out of Mercy Hospital’s burn unit and in a rehabilitation facility.

“He’s so loveable,” said Barbara Barbera, the victim’s stepgrandmother Friday.

“I feel sorry for the child.  I hope God blesses him with a full, speedy recovery,” said neighbor Clarence Jackson.

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