Medical examiners had trouble determining the cause of Ember Warfel's death, noting her body was in an advance state of decomposition

By Chris Harris
Updated May 23, 2016 04:55 PM
Credit: Medina County Sheriff's Office

The trial for a 34-year-old man who was arrested last summer after his 21-month-old daughter’s decomposing body was found in a crib got underway on Monday inside a Medina, Ohio, courtroom, PEOPLE confirms.

A prosecution source tells PEOPLE that Eric Warfel’s trial for abusing a corpse and tampering with evidence could last several weeks.

Police were called to Warfel’s home after a cable television installer found Ember Warfel’s decomposing remains as he worked inside the home.

A judge will determine Warfel’s guilt or innocence. He was found competent to stand trial after previously pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, according to court record. He has pleaded not guilty ahead of the present trial.

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Warfel allegedly told investigators his young daughter had died about a month before his arrest and that he had been throwing trash into the child’s bedroom to cover up the smell.

Medical examiners had trouble determining the cause of Ember’s death, noting her body was in an advanced state of decomposition.

Warfel’s attorney has claimed Ember was born with severe medical problems, insinuating those health issues led to her death.

Warfel, according to police, had another of his daughters die suddenly in 2013.

In November, Warfel’s father wrote a letter to a judge as part of a motion to lower Warfel’s bond. The letter, which was obtained by PEOPLE, stated that Warfel’s 7-year-old daughter “means everything to him. He has tried to provide for her.”

It adds, “He is very close with us, his parents, as well as his sister.”