Fatal beating of elderly Fayette man recounted for jurors
A 35-year-old Fayette County man brutally beat an elderly man, leading to his death, because he was upset over the older man's relationship with a woman, according to a prosecutor.
Jonathan Godines of Brownsville punched and kicked John Eicholtz, 75, because he felt that Eicholtz's relationship with the woman was an “affront to his manhood,” said Assistant District Attorney Anthony Iannamorelli at the outset of Godines' homicide trial on Monday.
The Nov. 15, 2011, beating caused Eicholtz to suffer a stroke that resulted in his death on Dec. 1, 2011, Iannamorelli said.
“The defendant, Jonathan Godines, beat the victim, John Eicholtz, to death,” Iannamorelli told jurors. “He beat him to death with his bare hands.”
Brownsville police allege Godines, now 37, beat Eicholtz on Nov. 15, 2011, outside the Brownsville House apartments on High Street as Eicholtz was delivering cigarettes to a female tenant. Eicholtz was taken to UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh, where he remained in a coma until he died on Dec. 1, police said.
One of Godines' attorneys, Benjamin Goodwin, told jurors that Godines never intended to kill Eicholtz.
“What happened here was a fistfight,” Goodwin said. “There was never any specific intent to kill John Eicholtz.”
Goodwin said Godines was unaware Eicholtz was taking medications for an illness that affected his veins. An increase in Eicholtz's blood pressure, he said, caused a blood vessel to rupture in his brain.
Eicholtz, Goodwin argued, was showing signs of improvement in a hospital after the assault when his “family refused further treatment.” Once medical care was withdrawn, Goodwin said, Eicholtz's condition deteriorated.
Jurors heard from six prosecution witnesses, including Megan Boger and Tabitha Ziglear, both 18. The Brownsville teenagers said they were taking a break about 6:30 p.m. from dancing at a studio on Water Street when they saw Godines drag Eicholtz from his car and kick and punch him.
The teens testified Godines walked away and Eicholtz followed him. Eicholtz returned a short time later but had a bloody lip, a cut forehead and was slurring his speech, they testified.
Both teens identified Godines as the assailant.
Emma Petrosky, 20, of Brownsville testified that she, her sister and mother were riding past the Antique Bar & Grill on High Street when she saw a younger man on the curb, motioning for an older man to approach him. When the older man reached the younger man, she testified, the younger man punched the older man twice.
Petrosky's 16-year-old sister, Brianna, and the girls' mother, Fawn Petrosky, testified they saw the younger man punching the older man.
The Petroskys could not identify the younger man.
Jerry Abbey, a bartender at the Antique Bar & Grill, testified he was standing behind the bar when he looked through the glass door and saw Godines kicking and punching at something. He said he saw Godines deliver as many as 15 punches toward his target before he walked away.
“He was punching something, and kicking at something,” Abbey testified. “What he was kicking at … I couldn't see what it was.”
Abbey said he walked outside and saw an older man whom he did not recognize walking away.
Testimony is to resume on Tuesday before President Judge John F. Wagner Jr.
Liz Zemba is a reporter 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.
- 3 face charges for drugs, weapons after arrest in North Huntingdon
- Man takes rifle from Jeannette police car
- Identities of theft suspects sought by Penn Township and state police
- Pollution may be cause of sky’s colored streaks in Westmoreland
- Girl, 8, hit by truck in North Irwin, breaks leg
- Grant program targets 7 Westmoreland County towns, including Greensburg, for revitalization
- Westmoreland judge: Contact with advocacy group won’t hamper fairness in drug trial
- Latrobe-Unity parks department seeks grant; revamp to cost $112K
- Mt. Pleasant Scout creates drop box for flag disposal
- 1 injured in Mt. Pleasant Twp. accident
- Contract talks to start this week for prison union in Westmoreland