Expert witness barred in Western Pa. murder trial

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SOMERSET – A Western Pennsylvania judge has barred some testimony sought by defense attorneys in the upcoming trial of a woman accused of having killed her housemate more than two years ago.


Prosecutors in Somerset County alleged 27-year-old Erin Everett shot 21-year-old Tory Minnick twice in the head and then bludgeoned her with a hammer in Jerome in March 2011.


Defense attorney Brent Peck had sought to present testimony on battered women syndrome, spousal abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Prosecutors argued that the testimony would be “unrepresentative of the facts and grossly misleading” and also challenged the qualifications of the proposed expert witness.


The (Somerset) Daily American said President Judge John Cascio agreed, ruling that there was no evidence to justify such a self-defense argument.


Police said Everett told them that a man wearing a ski mask forced his way into their Conemaugh Township home March 25 and assaulted both women.


But investigators alleged that Everett – who is tentatively scheduled for trial this fall on charges of criminal homicide, first- and third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault – attacked and killed the victim, then faked a break-in.


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