Watch CBS News

Trial Begins For Man In Beating Death Of Fayette Co. Boy

UNIONTOWN, Pa. (KDKA) – The trial is underway for a Fayette County man accused of beating to death his girlfriend's 4-year-old son.

In a text message to the child's father revealed in court Monday, the mother claimed he once said he hated kids. Now he's on trial for his life and she's a prosecution witness.

This time last week, both Patrick Haney and Heather Forsythe, were facing criminal homicide charges in the 2011 death of her 4-year-old son Trenton St. Clair. The family lived in Point Marion, Fayette County.

But Monday morning Forsythe testified against Haney after reaching a plea bargain. No homicide charges for her after pleading guilty to reckless endangerment charges and facing two-and-a-half to five years in jail.

She was often tearful. Three days before he died, Forsythe described seeing Haney abusing the child.

"He was standing over my child," she said. "I saw him hitting and slapping my child and he kicked him with the side of his foot. Trenton was crying."

The child's condition deteriorated.

"He had a bellyache and on the 13th he was vomiting," she said. "When I told Patrick I was taking him to the doctor he said I was overreacting. He wouldn't let me call 911. He said he could get us there faster. On the way to the hospital Trenton fell out on me. He stopped breathing. Patrick kept telling me he was sorry. I kept asking him why. He wouldn't answer."

She testified she told authorities he fell at the urging of Haney.

"I told police he fell down the steps in hopes I'd be taken somewhere else. I told them I wanted to be separated from Patrick."

But the 4-year-old was pronounced dead at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. Later Forsythe told police Haney abused the boy.

The little boy's grandmother, Sharon Smitley, told KDKA-TV at the time of his death she always suspected Haney abused the boy.

"Once he had a black eye due to a so-called bike accident," she said in 2011. "There was 2 foot of snow on the ground."

But the defense attorney tried to raise doubt in the jury's mind about Heather Forsythe's motives.

On cross examination he asked, "On August 21st did you text Patrick, 'I slapped him because he was asking me questions about this movie.' Did you recall sending that text message?"

"Yes." She replied.

An expert testified the boy's injuries were not the result of an accident but was a homicide.

More medical testimony is expected Tuesday.


More Local News
More Reports About This Case
Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.