Hyde Park man to stand trial for wife’s 2017 death, her taped accusations played in court
Among the witnesses who testified Friday against a Hyde Park man accused of killing his wife in 2017 was the victim, herself.
Jeffrey Mark Fondrk, 57, was ordered to stand trial Friday for allegedly beating Patricia Ann Fondrk to death in July 2017. Fondrk pleaded not guilty.
At his preliminary hearing Friday, prosecutors played a videotape Patricia Fondrk made roughly three months before her death.
She is seen in the self-made video claiming how her husband had beaten her over a period of at least 10 years. She says in the video she planned to testify against him in court in connection with an alleged beating incident from 2016.
Trooper Shane G. McClelland testified Friday that troopers found the video inside the Fondrks’ house on Main Street after her death.
State police allege Jeffrey Fondrk showed a cellphone copy of the video to a coworker and said to the coworker that he knew he would be going to jail.
Patricia Fondrk died July 18, 2017 in UPMC Presbyterian. She was unconscious when she was flown there 10 days earlier from the family home. An autopsy found she had suffered severe head injuries and bruising across her body.
At the preliminary hearing Friday, Assistant District Attorney James Thomas Lazar added charges of intimidating a witness and retaliation of a witness. The witness was Patricia Fondrk.
“Only about two months after the video (was made), she was dead,” Lazar said.
Charges were not immediately filed but investigators continued to delve into the case.
Authorities say that, last January, troopers got a confession from Fondrk that he assaulted his wife. He was arrested on the homicide charge July 22.
Defense attorney Greg Cecchetti objected to Lazar playing taped testimony of state Trooper Owen Leonard about the 2016 assault. Leonard is no longer based at the Kiski Valley state police station and wasn’t available for cross-examination.
District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec allowed the tape to be aired at the preliminary hearing. She said challenges to its use could properly be made in a pretrial defense motion before a Westmoreland County Court judge.
She held homicide, assault and the two new charges to court and ordered Fondrk to stand trial.
Cecchetti declined to comment.
Fondrk was returned to the Westmoreland County Prison where he has been held without bond since his arrest.
On Oct. 2, Fondrk is scheduled to be formally arraigned in county court.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .