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Belle Vernon couple to testify against babysitter

| Saturday, May 3, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Submitted
Joshua N. Tannous
Matthew Price
Tracy Price

A Belle Vernon couple agreed to testify against a babysitter accused of assaulting their toddler.

Matthew J. Price, 21, and Tracy Elizabeth Price, 23, of 20 Johnston St. are expected to cooperate with authorities in an investigation against Joshua N. Tannous, 19, of Bentleyville.

The Prices, along with Tannous, appeared Friday before Magisterial District Judge Richard Kasunic II in Perry Township.

The Prices agreed to waive their rights to preliminary hearings on charges of endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.

Fayette County Assistant District Attorney Mark Mehalov said tentative plea agreements have been reached with the Prices.

“That agreement is contingent upon their continued cooperation as we proceed against Mr. Tannous,” Mehalov said.

Tannous' preliminary hearing was continued because police plan to file additional aggravated assault charges against him, Mehalov said.

Southwest Regional Police Chief John Hartman said the complaint against Tannous is expected to be amended on Monday.

Tannous was charged Feb. 6 with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

Tannous allegedly told Hartman in an interview that he had “smoked marijuana and drank whiskey” before the assault, claiming the toddler wouldn't go to sleep and kept screaming and crying, an affidavit of probable cause stated.

Tannous said he “became very mad,” lost control, and hit and shook the child, a criminal complaint states.

Hartman said that on Jan. 30, Matthew Price found that his 6-month-old daughter had a burn on her hand. Tannous allegedly told Matthew Price the injury was caused when he changed the child's diaper too close to a heater that she grabbed.

Matthew Price said Tannous watched the children about a dozen times, claiming that each time he would return to find the babysitter high, according to court documents. Matthew Price said that at such times, the house had an odor of marijuana, police said.

Tannous was released from the Fayette County Jail on Feb. 20 after posting $35,000 bail through a bail bondsman.

The Prices are each free on $25,000 bond. Each is scheduled for formal arraignment 9:30 a.m. June 19 in Fayette County Court.

A new hearing date had not been set for Tannous as of late Friday.

Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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