Man on trial for amputating girl’s fingertip in concert melee

April 2, 2013

In an hourlong appearance in Washington County Court Tuesday, a 17-year-old girl tearfully described how she tried to defend herself from her ex-boyfriend and lost a fingertip during a confrontation at First Niagara Pavilion, Hanover Township.

A jury of six men and six women will have to decide if Allison Domitrovich, a senior at Hopewell High School, was the victim of a willful attack or an unfortunate accident when her fingertip was bitten off last summer during an altercation at a Lady Antebellum concert.

On trial is Zachary Nicholas Leone, 22, of Aliquippa, Beaver County, who is charged with recklessly endangering another person, simple assault and aggravated assault.

In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Darren Newberry said Domitrovich, now a senior at Hopewell High School, was trying to break up a fight between Leone, her ex-boyfriend, and her date, Nolan Harmotto, at the country music concert June 2.

Harmotto, a Hopewell graduate who is a freshman at the University of Dayton, testified he and friends were tailgating before the concert in the amphitheater’s parking lot, where he had consumed four cans of beer.

Domitrovich, who said she drank two beers during the tailgate, saw Leone in the parking lot. “He gave me a look,” she testified. “I just walked away.”

The concert began, and Domitrovich and those with her took seats on the amphitheater lawn.

Harmotto, Domitrovich and a friend were on their way to restrooms partway through the show when “out of the corner of my eye I saw Zack rushing toward me, and he threw a punch,” Harmotto said. “There were no words exchanged or anything.”

Domitrovich testified Leone punched Harmotto. “I was in the middle of it, kind of,” she told the jury.

Under cross-examination by Leone’s attorney, Stephen Colafella, Domitrovich said, “I was trying to push them apart. … It was chaotic.”

When questioned by the prosecution, Domitrovich testified, “Zack grabbed into me. He was swinging at me. I was trying to push him off me, and I was screaming his name. I remember seeing my finger in his mouth.”

After the melee, Domitrovich was left with a severed fingertip on the ring finger of her right hand, an injury she showed to the jury.

Domitrovich sought help at a first-aid station, then went by ambulance to Weirton (W.Va.) Medical Center and, later, Allegheny General Hospital.

She arrived home early the next morning and contacted Hanover police the following day.

She spent the summer in physical therapy sessions. A Hopewell cheerleader, she was unable to participate fully in the squad’s activities.

Her hand surgeon, Dr. Dean Sotereanos, testified it would take “significant force” to sever a fingertip. “Her finger will never be completely normal, but it healed fairly well,” he testified.

Colafella, who will have the opportunity to present his case today when the trial resumes before Judge Katherine B. Emery, told the jury in his opening statement, “Zack feels people jumping on his back. One of them is the victim. In the course of that, her finger is bitten. The whole episode probably lasts less than 15 seconds.”

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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