Prosecutor: Local boy's death sparks international attention

Date: 2010-03-05

ELIZABETH EVANS
The York Dispatch

Chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker said that when reviewing evidence in the alleged murder of 7-year-old Nathaniel Craver, he focused on a single issue - getting justice for Nathaniel.

So when four Russian television news crews showed up at the York County Judicial Center on Wednesday to interview Barker about the boy's death, it was a surprise, he said.

"That really came at me out of left field. I was not expecting that at all," Barker said. "We weren't viewing this as an American adoption of a Russian child. To us, this was a child."

Nathaniel, born Ivan Skorobogatov in Russia's Chelyabinsk region, was adopted by Michael J. Craver and Nanette L. Craver in 2003, according to the ITAR-TASS News Agency of Russia.

The Cravers remain in York County Prison without bail, charged with homicide, child endangerment and conspiracy to commit both charges.

Barker said the general homicide charge will eventually be amended to first- and third-degree murders.

"News agencies have been calling me all day," Barker said, including TASS and Reuters. "What they said is that this is a large story in Russia, that there is a great interest there in what occurred here."

Both TASS and Russian information agency RIA-Novosti are reporting that Russian Senator Valentina Petrenko, head of the Parliament's committee on social policies, has forwarded a proposal to introduce a temporary moratorium on American adoptions of Russian orphans.

Petrenko also said the situation should be discussed with the U.S. Department of State, the Russian agencies reported.

At a foreign press briefing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, journalists asked a U.S. Department of State official general questions about Russian adoptions to the United States.

Michele Thoren Bond, deputy assistant secretary of state for overseas citizens, fielded the questions, according to a transcript of the press briefing. One journalist stated that more than a dozen Russian orphans adopted by U.S. parents have died, a figure corroborated by TASS.

Bond noted that most of the Russian children now in the United States are "thriving," according to the press briefing transcript.

Charging documents against the Cravers note that Nathaniel suffered multiple injuries, some new and some old. He died Aug. 25 at Hershey Medical Center of complications from traumatic brain injury, according to the Dauphin County Coroner's Office.

Nathaniel was also malnourished, District Attorney Tom Kearney has said.

Michael Craver, 45, and Nanette Craver, 54, both of 36 Blair Mountain Road in Carroll Township, told investigators that Nathaniel injured himself. But Kearney said investigators don't believe that claim.

The boy's twin sister was removed from the couple's care and is safe, Kearney said.

Michael Craver told investigators the twins had been removed from their home two years prior to Nathaniel's death while York County Children and Youth Services investigated conditions at the home, but were later returned, charging documents state.

The twins were being home-schooled, authorities said.

Barker said while he didn't expect Nathaniel's death to spark international attention, in retrospect it does not surprise him.

"I clearly understand why it's being reported and discussed, and I can see why it would bring attention," he said. "But quite frankly, we're focused on seeking justice for Nathaniel. ... The aspects that involve international adoption are clearly not our focal point. All we care about is doing justice."

0

Pound Pup Legacy