A North East-area man accused of beating his girlfriend to death last weekend admitted Monday that he punched her three days before she died, according to police.
Charging documents filed by Maryland State Police homicide investigators say 23-year-old Belvue Road resident David A. Barton told police he punched his 23-year-old live-in girlfriend Tracy M. Weichert "in her left side with his right fist" during an argument at their home Friday night.
Barton was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and other felonies hours after Weichert died at Christiana Hospital following emergency surgery Monday morning.
The surgeon who operated on Weichert reportedly told police that she had suffered a ruptured spleen that was the "result of some type of trauma," according to charging documents included in court records released Tuesday.
Those documents also indicate that the location of the spleen is consistent with where Barton said he punched Weichert.
"Barton said Weichert cried after he struck her, however, he left the residence after that to cool down for a few hours," investigators reported in court documents.
Barton told police he returned home about 9 p.m. Friday, apologized to Weichert and stayed with her until 6 p.m. Sunday, when he arranged for her to be taken to the hospital because she was vomiting and complaining of abdominal pain, according to court records.
Barton's father, Ronald, drove the couple to Union Hospital, and David Barton stayed with Weichert for about three hours before leaving, according to police.
"David Barton advised that he only stayed at Union with Tracy until around (9 p.m.) because he had to work the next day," investigators wrote in their report.
Police, however, have since stated that Barton is unemployed.
Weichert was transferred to Christiana Hospital at about 1 a.m. Monday before undergoing emergency surgery for a ruptured spleen, according to court records, which state that she died a short time later.
At about 5:45 a.m. on Monday, a Christiana Hospital nurse called the North East Barrack of the Maryland State Police to report that she believed Weichert might have been a victim of assault, police said.
The nurse came to that conclusion based on Weichert's injuries and a phone conversation Weichert had with her mother before her surgery, police said.
"The nurse that was treating Tracy Weichert overheard a phone conversation in which Weichert was explaining to her mother that she was injured by her boyfriend, David Barton," according to charging document.
The victim's mother, Debbie Weichert, later confirmed to police that her daughter told her Barton had caused her injuries by hitting her, court records show.
Barton is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, first-degree assault and second-degree assault, according to court records.
Barton was being held at the Cecil County Detention Center Tuesday night after District Court Judge Stephen J. Baker raised his bond from $150,000 to $250,000 during a bail review hearing earlier in the day.
Police said Barton and Weichert had been in a relationship for six years and investigators reported finding no documented history of abuse in their relationship.
Outside of their relationship, however, Barton displayed a penchant for violence, as evidenced in four separate court cases in which he was charged with assault.
According to court records, Barton was charged with second-degree assault as a result of unrelated incidents in 2005 and 2006. Barton was never prosecuted on those charges, however, and each of those cases was placed on the courts' inactive docket.
In a fourth case, Barton pleaded guilty to a reckless endangerment charge stemming from an incident in April 2005 for which he received a 70-day jail sentence on July 18, 2008, according to court records.
Weichert's death Monday marks the second time in two years that her loved ones have had to confront a death in the family that has resulted in criminal charges.
On April 17, 2008, Weichert's 18-year-old brother, Evan, and two of his friends were killed in a crash at Red Toad Road and West Pulaski Highway when the driver of another car ran a red light and smashed into their vehicle.
Police later determined that the 46-year-old Aberdeen man who struck their vehicle had taken prescription painkillers and methadone prior to the crash. A jury later convicted him of three counts of vehicular homicide and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.