Fayette County man found guilty in death of his toddler granted retrial

FAYETTE COUNTY, Pa. — A Fayette County father found guilty in his toddler’s death is getting a rare retrial.

Michael Wright has been in prison for seven years after he was found guilty of third-degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old daughter, who police say was malnourished and weighed just 10 pounds.

Prosecutors said that Wright’s daughter, Lydia, was strapped into a car seat for 13 hours before her mother rushed her unresponsive body to the hospital in February 2016.

Wright’s new lawyer presented the judge with new evidence showing the autopsy results were inaccurate and Lydia did not weigh 10 pounds.

A letter from forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht says in part:

“It’s clear that Lydia’s documented weight is far more than the 10 lbs. as documented in the autopsy.”

The letter goes on to say it could have been a scale malfunction.

Wright’s mother, Kimberly Vega, says Wecht’s testimony during the trial was damaging to her son’s case when he stated Lydia weighed 10 pounds, and the public defender didn’t question it or put any medical experts on the stand for the defense.

“There was never any question in my mind that the weight was wrong during the hearing because Cyril Wecht came and said that’s what it was, the entire media had it blasted... ‘20 pounds starvation,’” said Vega. “We are so traumatized by this, the entire family. Not only were we traumatized by the death of my grandchild, it’s almost like you weren’t even able to grieve.”

Last week a Fayette County judge overturned the conviction and granted the new trial, citing in a 22-page report the weight inaccuracy and failures by the public defenders assigned to his case. The Fayette County public defender’s office said no comment. District Attorney Rich Bowers wasn’t available to comment.

Investigators after Lydia’s death have questioned deplorable living conditions in the Wright home, and why the child was left strapped in a car seat for so long. When asked if Lydia’s parents were negligent, she said the child did have pneumonia, which she believes was the cause of death, and could have been taken to the hospital sooner.

Wecht tells Channel 11 he’s okay with Wright getting a new trial, but he would have to see if a new weight changed the outcome of the autopsy’s cause of death.

Wright’s bail hearing is set for next week.

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