Jeannette murder victim had more than 100 wounds, pathologist says
Khalil Parker sustained more than 100 different injuries that caused him to bleed to death, a Westmoreland County jury was told Tuesday.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht testified in the fourth day of the first-degree murder trial of Crystal Belle, 39, that Parker, found dead June 11, 2016, in Belle’s South Seventh Street home, sustained bruises, cuts and lacerations in 28 different clusters all over his body including his head, arms, chest and genitals.
“It was a cumulative effect that led to a condition in which his body did not have enough fluid, enough blood,” Wecht testified. “There just comes a time, a moment, where the body says that is enough.”
Prosecutors contend Belle used a snow shovel and a wooden plank to beat Parker as two engaged in a violent confrontation in the home they had shared for about three months. Belle maintains Parker suffered his injuries during rough consensual sex and that she became enraged when he became even more violent during the sexual encounter.
Investigators say they found blood throughout the house. Knotted shoe laces were tied to furniture and a bed, where large blood stains were discovered. The shovel was discovered in multiple pieces in two separate rooms.
Wecht said many of Parker’s injuries were recent, including a wound under his scalp that gushed blood during the autopsy. Many of the wounds could have been inflicted by the shovel and wood plank, he testified. Parker also sustained numerous lacerations that could have been caused by pliers that were found in the kitchen, Wecht said.
During questioning from defense attorney Brian Aston, Wecht conceded that he could not specifically say how the injuries were inflicted but said the defense’s theory that some were caused by rough sexual activity that included voluntary bondage and “spankings” was plausible.
Sara Harner, a DNA expert for the Pennsylvania State Police crime lab, testified that the shovel and wood plank contained genetic material from both Parker and Belle, as did two sections of knotted shoe laces that were tested. Parker’s DNA also was found on the jaws of the pliers while Belle’s DNA was identified on the grip part of the tool.
Former neighbors told jurors that Belle and Parker continually argued and that police had been called to their home less than a month before his death.
“They weren’t very nice and they argued a lot. I heard screaming and arguing out back pretty frequently,” testified former neighbor Robert Veitch.
Vernessa Kershaw testified she saw Belle and Parker about a month before his death at his grandmother’s funeral.
“He kept his head down and, when I came up to him to give him a hug, he thanked me. Then Crystal walked over. She pushed me away and she said to get away from him, that ‘she’s his man and I don’t give a … who you are,’” Kershaw testified.
Investigators said Belle, who fled the area after Parker’s body was discovered, was initially hard to find and that it wasn’t until a week after she was charged in early July that she surrendered to authorities at the bus station in Pittsburgh. Belle had fled to Ohio after Parker’s death, police said.
Westmoreland County Detective Tony Marcocci said Belle, as she was driven back to Westmoreland County after her arrest, denied any involvement in Parker’s death.
“She told me we had the wrong person and we should be out looking for the real killer,” Marcocci testified.
The prosecution is expected to complete its case against Belle on Wednesday.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .