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Jeannette woman won't testify against boyfriend

Joe Napsha
| Monday, May 14, 2012, 2:34 p.m.

Despite a pregnant Jeannette woman's refusal to testify Thursday against the boyfriend who Greensburg police say beat her and her unborn child, the prosecution will not drop the case.

Erica Krautz, 19, of 714 Division St., Jeannette, told District Justice James Albert of Greensburg she would not testify against Shandell Smith, 18, of 17 &*#189; 13th St., Jeannette. He was to face a preliminary hearing before Albert on charges of aggravated assault on an unborn child, simple assault and harassment.

Even though the victim would not testify, Albert agreed to continue the hearing until May 3. Assistant District Attorney Patricia Elliott asked for the continuance so prosecutors can contact a Greensburg resident who claims to have witnessed the assault on April 2. Elliott said the prosecution intends to proceed with testimony from a witness, written statements given to police and records from Krautz's medical examination after the beating.

'Erica (Krautz) can make decisions (not to testify) on her own behalf, but nobody can speak for the unborn child,' Elliott said.

Assistant Public Defender Ryan Kammerer objected to the continuance, saying the prosecution knew Krautz would not testify and could have produced the witness for the hearing.

Elliott said they did not subpoena the witness because the victim could have testified to the injuries she sustained.

After the proceedings, Albert said he could have dismissed the case but noted the seriousness of the charges Smith faces.

Police said the beating occurred as Smith drove Krautz from Jeannette to Greensburg the night of April 2. She reportedly sustained severe lacerations of the head when Smith allegedly slammed her head off a brick wall several times near Agnew Road in Hempfield Township.

Officer Chad Zucco said Krautz alleged that Smith kicked her in the stomach. At the time of the beating, police said the victim was about eight weeks pregnant.

Smith was arrested at a Depot Street parking lot after a resident reported to police at 10:40 p.m. that an assault was occurring. Smith and the victim were found wearing bloodstained clothing in a sport utility vehicle. Krautz was treated at Westmoreland Regional Hospital in Greensburg.

Albert changed Smith's $20,000 bond to a $20,000 unsecured bond, which would allow him to be released from the Westmoreland County Prison. He has been in jail since his arrest, and Elliott said the Westmoreland County Juvenile Probation Office has a detainer against Smith for allegedly violating his probation.

Although Albert stipulated that Smith cannot contact the victim if he is released, Kammerer said Krautz visited Smith in jail and the couple have a child together. Albert advised Krautz not to contact Smith or she could face more trouble.

Elliott said this is the first time she has prosecuted a case in which a suspect is charged with aggravated assault against an unborn child, a first-degree felony charge that the state Legislature enacted in March 1998. Conviction on the charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years, she said.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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