Share This Page

Indiana County homicide suspect covered toddler's mouth, trooper testifies

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

An Indiana County man held his hand over the mouth of his 22-month-old stepson for 10 to 20 seconds, Trooper Deana Kirkland testified on Tuesday.

“I believe it was because (the child) was whining or whimpering,” Kirkland said during a preliminary hearing for Juan Raul Campbell, 28, of Burrell Township.

Malachi Patterson was taken to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh on May 17 because he was found unresponsive. He died two days later.

District Judge George Thachik ordered Campbell to stand trial on homicide and related charges.

Prosecutors allege that Malachi died as a result of Campbell's actions on May 17.

Abdulrezak Shakir, a pathologist with the Allegheny County medical examiner's office, testified that Malachi died as result of a brain injury from lack of oxygen. He ruled the death a homicide but agreed on cross-examination that the baby's mouth could have been covered by something else.

“In this situation, the covering of the mouth and the nose of a baby is an obvious act that would lead to the preventing of the breathing of that baby,” Shakir said.

Kirkland testified that investigators suspected abuse and interviewed the victim's grandmother and Campbell, who is married to Malachi's mother, Jamie Patterson Campbell. At the time of the death, she was in a hospital after giving birth, police said.

Police initially filed charges against Juan Campbell on May 18 and amended them two days later to add a homicide charge because Malachi died, Kirkland said.

During an interview on May 19, Campbell “admitted to putting his hand on Malachi's mouth to quiet him,” Kirkland testified.

In that interview, Campbell told police he used heroin around the time of the incident and hadn't had much sleep, Kirkland said.

Indiana County Children & Youth Services was assessing the family at the time of Malachi's death.

Malachi had a broken left femur and was wearing a cast that encompassed the lower half of his body, investigators have said.

The boy's grandmother, Linda Patterson, told police she put Malachi to bed in the baby's room about 9:30 p.m. May 16.

At 2:30 a.m., Patterson said, Campbell alerted her to a problem with Malachi. Patterson told police she found the child unresponsive with a bruise on his left cheek.

Campbell is being held in the Indiana County Jail on charges of homicide, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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.