Jury selection ends in trial for Fayette County boy's beating death
A jury was seated late Friday in a Fayette County homicide case in which a Point Marion man is accused of killing a 4-year-old boy.
The trial against Patrick Ray Haney, 29, is expected to begin on Monday before Judge Nancy Vernon.
Haney is charged with criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of a child in the Sept. 13, 2011, death of Trenton Lewis St. Clair. State police allege Haney repeatedly beat the boy.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.
Trenton's mother, Heather Louise Forsythe, 30, of New Salem, will testify against Haney in exchange for a plea bargain that calls for her to serve up to five years in prison on a charge of child endangerment.
Police said Forsythe did nothing to stop Haney from abusing Trenton and failed to take the child to a hospital until it was too late.
To seat the panel of 12 jurors and four alternates, attorneys began questioning candidates on Monday. The lengthy selection process included individual questioning of potential jurors by Assistant District Attorney Mark Mehalov and defense attorneys Jeremy Davis of Uniontown and Charles Carpinelli of Brownsville.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, the attorneys had questioned 117 candidates and selected 12 jurors and one alternate. The final three alternates were selected by 6:10 p.m.
Because the selection process took longer than anticipated, the testimony of forensic pathologist Matrina Schmidt was taken on Friday and preserved on video. Mehalov said jurors will be shown the video at some point during the trial.
Vernon, Haney and the attorneys were present for Schmidt's taped testimony.
During her plea hearing on Wednesday, Forsythe testified that she returned home from a funeral on Sept. 10, 2011, and found Haney standing over her son in an upstairs bedroom.
“I seen Patrick slapping and hitting on my child,” Forsythe testified. “I shoved Patrick off him.”
The beating left Trenton bruised and vomiting, Forsythe testified, but Haney would not let her take the boy to a hospital.
“I asked Patrick more than once to allow me to go to the hospital, but he said I was overreacting,” she said.
The couple waited for three days to take Trenton to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., where he was pronounced dead.
During an October 2012 hearing, an emergency room doctor testified Trenton had bruises on his jaw, chin, neck, eyes, abdomen, arms and legs. The pattern of a hand was visible in some of the bruises, the doctor testified, and the child's abdomen was abnormally stiff and distended.
Forsythe had no comment as she was escorted back to jail after her plea hearing. She is to be sentenced on April 2 by President Judge John F. Wagner Jr.
Haney, who has been in court throughout jury selection, declined to comment on the prospect of Forsythe testifying against him.
The two are being held in the Fayette County jail without bail.
Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fayette prison board wants to cut crowding
- Suit against Fayette County youth league dismissed
- Parade of Mustangs to kick off Connellsville’s Mum Festival
- Dunbar continues clean-up efforts after flood
- 30 days to decide fate of WCVI
- Connellsville walkers get dose of railroad talk, tracing trains’ track
- Fayette County communities proceed with proposed land bank to fight blight
- Fayette SPCA closure causes void
- Connellsville Health Board revisits proposed blight ordinance
- Geibel student gets peek at life at Harvard Medical School
- Connellsville woman challenges residents to help displaced animals