Murder trial to begin for Jeannette’s Crystal Belle, accused of killing teen boyfriend |

Murder trial to begin for Jeannette’s Crystal Belle, accused of killing teen boyfriend

Rich Cholodofsky

Testimony will begin Thursday in the first-degree murder trial for a Jeannette woman charged with the fatal beating of her teenage boyfriend nearly three years ago.

A 12-person jury, along with two alternates, was selected Wednesday to hear evidence in the case against Crystal Belle, who police claim bludgeoned to death 19-year-old Khalil Parker, of Brentwood, Allegheny County. Parker’s body was found tied to a bed in Belle’s South Seventh Street home on June 11, 2016.

Belle, 39, pleaded guilty last year to a reduced charge of third-degree murder but just before she was to be sentenced rescinded her plea as her attorney Brian Aston asserted there was a viable defense suggesting that Parker died from injuries he sustained a week earlier when he was attacked at a picnic in Wilkinsburg in which five other people were killed.

Aston claimed there was not enough physical evidence to support the prosecution’s theory that Parker was killed in Belle’s home.

Prosecutors contend Belle used shoe laces to tie up Parker and beat him repeatedly with a snow shovel after they engaged in rough consensual sex.

At the time of Belle’s guilty plea, District Attorney John Peck said he did not believe he could easily support a first-degree murder finding based on the physical evidence at the crime scene. Police said Parker died of blood loss related to the attack but evidence suggested he sustained numerous injuries. Peck said his case was largely based on circumstantial evidence and he would likely have difficulty proving which specific injury caused Parker’s death.

Belle faced a prison sentence of not more than 40 years behind bars after the guilty plea. If convicted of first-degree murder, Belle will receive a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

According to documents filed Wednesday, prosecutors listed 29 witnesses who are expected to testify during the trial before Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Feliciani.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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