The case of a mother charged with abandoning her disabled son in a wooded area off Cobbs Creek in West Philadelphia earlier this year moved closer to trial after she waived her right to a preliminary hearing on Monday morning.
Niya Parler, 41, faces attempted murder and aggravated assault charges for abandoning her 21-year-old son, who is quadriplegic, has cerebral palsy and is nonverbal, while she went to Maryland.
Parler was arrested outside Baltimore on April 11, a day after her son was discovered lying in leaves, "covered in a blanket with a Bible and a wheelchair nearby," according to the police report. He had missed school for the previous five days.
Related link: Mother who ditched quadriplegic son returned to Philly
But her defense lawyer says she has mental health issues.
"Niya has been viewed as this evil woman or monster who left her child to die in the woods," said attorney Kevin Mincey. "It's not that she was just off in Maryland laying up with her boyfriend just because that's what she wanted to do; she was and is legitimately ill."
Mincey criticized the state's Department of Public Welfare for not removing Parler's son from the home despite the fact that the family requesting assistance for years, he said.
The D.A.'s office declined to comment on the case or on negotiations for a guilty plea. Parler was found competent to stand trial but in need of treatment at a hearing in June, reports say.
Related link:Niya Parler hospitalized after arrest in Maryland
Mincey said his client waived her preliminary hearing so family members wouldn't have to testify.
"To force her family to get on the stand and testify, to bring in officers from Maryland and all that, it just didn't make sense," Mincey said.
After he was found in the woods, Parler's son was hospitalized at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for malnutrition, exposure, dehydration, and a cut to his back.
Mincey said Parler's son is still dealing with medical issues and "misses his mom."
Parler is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 8.