Couple face joint trial for abuse

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Tyrone couple facing criminal charges in the alleged abuse of their infant daughter are slated for a joint jury trial based on a recent judicial ruling.

Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle has turned down a request from Briana M. McClellan to have her case severed and considered independent of the criminal charges filed against Tyler M. Biddle.

While Tyrone police allege that Biddle, on June 5, shook the 5-week-old infant and caused the initial injuries, police also accused McClellan of failing to immediately seek medical attention for the child. The child was later diagnosed with brain damage that will restrict her development.

Assistant Public Defender Jade Salyards asked Doyle to sever McClellan’s case, contending that her client, who is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person, will be judged unfairly by a jury that also hears Biddle’s charges, which include aggravated assault.

Doyle concluded in her recent ruling that a jury will be able to separate the defendants’ cases based on the allegations.

“Nothing has been presented by the commonwealth to suggest that (McClellan) was aware of any actions taken by Mr. Biddle,” Doyle said. “Thus, the commonwealth would have to show how the actions or inactions of the defendant, leading up to the child’s admission to Tyrone Hospital, constituted the crimes charged.”

At a Feb. 8 hearing before Doyle, Assistant District Attorney Amanda Jacobson advised Doyle that the cases should be tried together so the jury understands how the baby’s injuries occurred and how they were exacerbated by McClellan’s delayed action.

Charges indicate that McClellan, upon returning home and seeing the baby’s unresponsive condition, turned to internet searches and a sister for guidance. After about two hours, McClellan then took the infant to the hospital’s emergency room.

Jacobson also asked at that hearing to keep the cases joined because they originate from the same course of events and because they would involve the same witnesses and evidence. Doyle reached that same conclusion and referenced the “judicial economy” that would be realized by keeping the cases joined.

While McClellan remains free on bail, Biddle remains incarcerated with bail at $100,000 cash. A request for lower bail was rejected earlier this month.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

COMMENTS