2010-01-07 / Front Page

Charges Bound Over Against Pittman In Homicide

Toddler homicide case headed to county court
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

A grief-stricken and emotional Shannon Wood took the stand last Wednesday morning to share details of her 24-month-old daughter’s health and behavior in the days before her unexpected death on December 2 as well as her own personal relationship with the man accused of ending her child’s life.

Wood told a courtroom of spectators, family and friends the last time she saw her daughter, Kylie York, alive had been when she left for work at 7:55 a.m. on December 2.

At the time, Kylie was watching “Elmo” on television while sitting at the foot of the bed in the master bedroom of Wood’s home at 161 Blackfoot Drive, Mc- Connellsburg. Lying near Kylie in the bed was Wood’s then boyfriend, 31-year-old Shane Douglas Pittman of 3026 Gem Bridge Road, Needmore.

Magisterial District Judge Wendy Mellott learned during the December 30 preliminary hearing Pittman had agreed to serve as Kylie’s caretaker for the day as he had on other occasions when his girlfriend had to work a day shift at Giant Food store in McConnellsburg. Pittman also worked at Giant, but typically the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift. He did not work the evening and morning hours just prior to the alleged homicide.

Wood testified when she returned home from work hours later she found her daughter presumably taking a nap on the couch. Wood stated Pittman informed her that Kylie had retrieved her blanket and pillow earlier and had voluntarily lain down to take a nap. Wood added the situation seemed odd to her as the toddler did not typically take a nap without being made to lie down and rest.

Wood also informed the court because her daughter had complained of a bellyache the prior evening, she promptly made an appointment with a local physician. When Wood went to wake her daughter a short time later for the appointment, she was unresponsive and was immediately rushed to the emergency room at Fulton County Medical Center. She never woke again.

Under cross-examination by Pittman’s defense attorney, Dwight Harvey, Wood explained Pittman had been “great” with Kylie as well as his own children.

Only on one occasion did she have cause to question whether Pittman would hurt Kylie, said Wood. She went on to share how her boyfriend of nine months dropped storm windows on her little girl. Wood related she did not witness the incident and was only informed of it by Pittman, who said the girl tripped him. Kylie sustained “little bruises on her arms and forehead” as a result of the storm window incident.

Two days prior to the December 2 incident, the mother testified, Kylie returned home from a visit with her father with a bruise on her forehead that was suffered during a reported slip in the bathtub. Kylie exhibited no changes in behavior upon her return home, still “picked at her food” but was a little “tired” from her family visit, according to her mother.

Attorney Harvey was informed during the questioning of Wood, she could not recall her daughter sustaining any other head injuries besides those two incidents.

Dr. Robert Tamburro, an expert witness for the commonwealth in the area of pediatric critical-care medicine, reported Kylie was under his care at Hershey Medical Center from the point of her arrival at approximately 6:30 p.m. on December 2 until she was pronounced dead on December 5 at 1:05 a.m.

Various treatments were utilized to reduce brain swelling and a breathing tube was kept in until it was determined by physicians Kylie would never awake. Furthermore, a series of tests completed revealed Kylie lacked brain activity and nerve function.

The doctor stated there was no evidence of a skull fracture during imaging and testing. A healing fracture was found, though, on Kylie’s wrist and some backbone abnormalities were discovered in the thoracic vertebrae.

In addition, several dimesized bruises were located on the girl’s belly as well as the bruise on her forehead above the right eye. Bruising was not seen on Kylie’s back as the girl was kept on her back at all times due to any potential spinal injuries.

Dr. Tamburro stated it was his opinion Kylie’s brain injury was likely the result of a “traumatic” injury. The doctor came to the decision, he said after ruling out the possibility of acute dehydration and blood-clotting issues as direct causes. He was, however, unable to determine with a high degree of certainty during what time frame Kylie could have suffered the injury.

Lead investigator Trooper Blaine Henderson of the Mc- Connellsburg state police substation told the court he first interviewed Pittman regarding the incident at Hershey Medical Center on December 3. A followup interview took place at the barracks again on December 4 after Pittman had been taken into custody for a state parole violation.

While taking Pittman’s written statement, the trooper stated, Pittman revealed after the girl spit up on her clothes, he picked her up quickly and ran down the hallway for the bathroom as her head and neck snapped back and forth up to 10 times. Pittman dropped her into a dry bathtub from a distance of two feet, Henderson said, and following the bath she was reportedly “shaking rapidly.”

Henderson said he and Pittman discussed being parents, and he asked the man if he had ever encountered a child shivering following a bath. After having heard the word convulsing, the trooper stated Pittman said looking back it was likely the girl was “probably convulsing” and not shaking or shivering.

Henderson told the defense attorney he did not ask Pittman for additional clarification on issues related to the distance that Kylie was dropped into the empty tub or the distance or force her head and neck snapped forward and back. He did note, though, that Pittman stated he “didn’t think before he acted” and maybe he should have been “gentle and patient.”

The defense did not offer any evidence in the case, but during closing statements attorney Harvey pointed out there was insufficient evidence for the charges of criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of children based on several factors, including being unable to determine when the brain injury occurred.

Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall countered that the criminal homicide case involves Pittman “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently” causing the death of the 2-year-old girl. Kendall said something happened to the girl between the hours of 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. while under Pittman’s care to have caused the brain injury.

“He grabbed her violently and dropped her into a bathtub,” said the district attorney. “These facts support our charges.”

Taking testimony into consideration, Judge Mellott ruled sufficient evidence was present to bound over both charges against Pittman for mandatory arraignment in the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas.

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