Father convicted; daughter was squeezed to death by a snake

Friday, March 8, 2002

GREENSBURG, Pa. -- A man whose 8-year-old daughter was squeezed to death by the family's 11-foot python was found innocent Thursday of involuntary manslaughter but guilty of endangering the girl's welfare.

Robert D. Mountain, 31, was negligent but not grossly reckless in leaving Amber Mountain home alone with the snake last August, Judge Richard McCormick Jr. ruled in the non-jury trial.

Mountain could get up to five years in prison.

Amber was found unconscious on the kitchen floor with the python, named Moe, coiled around her body. She died two days later at hospital from compression of the head and neck.

The girl's mother -- who bought the snake -- pleaded guilty to child endangerment in December and was placed on probation for two years. Marcy Mountain testified against her husband. Robert Mountain testified that he was kept awake by the python the night before his daughter's death as the snake tried to escape from its makeshift cage. He said checked on the snake before leaving for work the next morning.

Both he and his estranged wife said they knew the snake had outgrown its cage, a particleboard bin bought from a fabric store, with a hinged, clear-plastic lid that Robert Mountain had attached.

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