Jury sentences man to death in fatal beating of 4-year-old

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FAYETTE COUNTY, Pa. - A Fayette County man convicted of beating his girlfriend's 4-year-old son to death was given the death penalty Wednesday.

Patrick Haney Jr. was found guilty of first-degree homicide and child endangerment on Tuesday.

Haney was convicted of systematically beating Trenton St. Clair over several weeks in September 2011.

The child's mother, 30-year-old Heather Forsythe, of Point Marion, pleaded guilty last week to endangering the welfare of a child and testified against Haney.

Forsythe testified Monday that Haney Jr. "always had an excuse for every bruise" that she found on Trenton St. Clair.

She said the bruising increased in the last week of his life in September 2011, and she came home to find Haney slapping and hitting the boy.

Under cross-examination, Forsythe acknowledged she had a phone but said she couldn't reach relatives.

Holden reported graphic photographs of Trenton’s injuries were passed between jurors during the prosecution’s closing arguments.

“I did get a glimpse of the pictures. They’re bad and really upsetting,” Trenton’s grandmother, Sharon Smitley, said as she left the courtroom Tuesday.

In addition, a doctor testified it was the worst case of child abuse she had ever seen.

“I believe he deserves to die as well – a long hard death,” Smitley said. “I’m sorry if I sound cold and cruel, but what he did to my grandson was colder and crueler than anybody could imagine.”

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