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Smithfield man guilty in toddler's assault

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Fayette County jury convicted a Smithfield man of aggravated assault, simple assault, child endangerment and reckless endangerment for assaulting a 19-month-old boy.

Raymond Allen Matteson, 35, testified he did nothing to harm the toddler, but jurors took less than 30 minutes to reach the guilty verdicts on Tuesday.

State police said Matteson assaulted the boy in his Smithfield apartment on Oct. 4, causing brain damage that the mother testified left the child unable to walk, talk or crawl.

Lori Brundege testified Matteson, who is not the boy's father, was caring for the toddler while she worked. Matteson's brother, John Riggle Jr., 27, of Washington, testified he saw Matteson shaking the baby in the kitchen the day he was injured.

Under questioning by defense attorney Deanna Fahringer, Matteson on Tuesday testified he left the boy alone in the living room for 10 to 15 minutes. When he returned, the boy, whose right leg was in a cast from an earlier incident in which his leg was broken, was slumped over and turning “purplish blue.”

Matteson testified Riggle came downstairs as he was splashing water on the boy's face in the kitchen to try to revive him.

Under cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney Mark Mehalov, Matteson claimed no knowledge of how the boy was injured. He denied shaking the baby and said he could not explain his injuries.

“I have no explanation as to how they happened,” Matteson testified. “I don't know.”

Dr. Adelaide Eichman of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh testified on Monday that the boy had swelling and bleeding of his brain. The injuries could only have been caused by significant force, she testified, likely through punching or kicking.

Matteson was watching the boy during the earlier incident in September, when his leg was broken. He testified the boy fell down stairs, and when he laid the child down, he felt a bone “shift” in his leg.

Matteson denied having told Eichman the boy walked a short distance after the fall.

Eichman testified that if the leg were broken in the fall, the boy would not have been able to walk. The boy was treated at Children's Hospital for the broken leg, but no allegations of child abuse were raised at that time, Matteson testified.

Matteson is to be sentenced on Monday by Senior Judge Gerald R. Solomon.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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