A Bolivar man serving 30 years in prison for the 2011 murder of his newborn daughter contends the child’s mother confessed to her former lover that she was responsible for the girl’s death.
Tim Andrews, the defense lawyer for Clayton Mibroda, 32, during an appeal hearing Wednesday said recently discovered evidence could have led to an acquittal had it been disclosed prior to the 2013 criminal trial that resulted in a third-degree murder conviction.
Prosecutors claimed Mibroda snapped while caring for his fussy 20-day-old premature daughter, Natalee, while the baby’s mother was at a doctor’s appointment Dec. 27, 2011. According to police, mother Kayla Lichtenfels came home and found the child unresponsive. The infant suffered a fractured clavicle, bleeding in her brain and cuts to her mouth that indicated someone had shoved a bottle, pacifier or another object into her mouth along with numerous bruises, prosecutors said.
Mibroda throughout his trial and in subsequent unsuccessful appeals maintained his innocence and blamed the baby’s mother for the death. Mibroda claimed he saw Lichtenfels violently shake the child and argued at trial that the baby’s mother was addicted to drugs while pregnant.
Mibroda’s former friend, Brandon Green, testified during Wednesday’s hearing that he previously had a sexual relationship with Lichtenfels and that she confided to him while attempting to rekindle their romance after Mibroda’s arrest that she was to blame for her daughter’s death.
“She said Clayton Mibroda took the rap for her because he didn’t think she could handle sitting in jail,” Green testified.
Green, 30, of Indiana County said he never disclosed that information to Mibroda’s previous lawyers and only did so this year in a letter he mailed to his former friend while serving a state prison sentence for the assault of his 6-year-old stepson.
He claimed to have met with two people while in an Indiana County jail in early 2012, possibly investigators from Westmoreland County, prior to Mibroda’s trial and disclosed the alleged confession. Green could not identify with whom he met.
He said he now feels duty-bound to come forward with what he knew about the case.
“As I sit in prison now, justice is important to me,” Green testified.
Mibroda’s former defense lawyer, Public Defender Wayne McGrew, said he did not send investigators to meet with Green before the trial. Assistant District Attorney Barbara Jollie also said she has no record of any police officers questioning Green in jail.
“Brandon Green is not credible. He’s a good friend of this man, a good friend of his family,” Jollie said.
Lichtenfels, while testifying Wednesday, conceded she had a sexual relationship with Green but denied ever taking blame for her daughter’s death.
“It’s not true,” Lichtenfels said.
Westmoreland Common Pleas Judge Christopher Feliciani said he would allow Andrews an additional 30 days to find more evidence to support Green’s testimony and a ruling on Mibroda’s appeal will be deferred.