TYRONE - A Tyrone Township man will stand trial on charges he tried to kill his mother with a sledgehammer.
Matthew J. Baldessaro, 30, showed no emotion Monday during his preliminary hearing in Tyrone District Court, even when pictures of his battered mother, Debra Baldessaro, were shown to Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller.
"Practically every bone in her face was broken; her brain was damaged; her ribs were broken; and her lung was possibly damaged," Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio said, summarizing the UPMC Altoona medical report of the 55-year-old woman's injuries.
State police Trooper Terry Summers said when he arrived at the Baldessaro home about 12:11 p.m. on New Year's Eve, Matthew Baldessaro was in the house. After he was ordered outside, troopers found Debra Baldessaro bleeding, unconscious and moaning on the floor of a second-story bedroom.
Summers testified Baldessaro has maintained that he was dropped off by a van after leaving rehab, walked inside the home, got something to eat and didn't realize anyone else was home until he found his mother on the floor. He told investigators someone must have assaulted her during a "robbery," Summers said. Police said nothing was missing from the home, except that the weapon used in the beating was not found.
Summers also testified that state police found suspected blood on Baldessaro's clothes and that they had been sent to a state police lab for further processing.
Miller asked Summers about Baldessaro's demeanor after he was taken into custody. Summers said the suspect showed no emotion in the two-hour interview with investigators that afternoon.
"His whole interview was about him, his condition, his problems," Summers said. "It was all about him."
Debra Baldessaro, who was hospitalized for a month after the attack, is having problems with her memory, as well as walking, and has not been able to talk with investigators, Summers said.
Baldessaro's grandmother and aunt testified Debra Baldessaro was in contact with both of them just minutes before the noontime assault.
Baldessaro's grandmother, Debra Baldessaro's mother, told the court her daughter told her that Baldessaro was headed to the house from rehab and that he wanted his pills. The 78-year-old woman testified Debra Baldessaro didn't want him in the house and had wanted her to come over to the house. Baldessaro's grandmother said as she spoke with her daughter, Baldessaro picked up the other phone in the house and spoke, a key element Consiglio said proved Baldessaro was in the house before his mother was assaulted.
"I heard his voice," Baldessaro's grandmother said. After that conversation, she said she tried calling back, but no one would answer the phone.
She also said that since the assault, Baldessaro has tried to get information about his mother's condition from her and asked if Debra Baldessaro would be testifying at his preliminary hearing.
"I think he wanted to know if she could testify," she said.
Baldessaro's aunt testified she got a text message from Debra Baldessaro at 11:58 that said Baldessaro had taken the phones off the hook and was swinging a sledgehammer at her.
Baldessaro's aunt said she texted back for Debra Baldessaro to get out of the house and call 911 with her cellphone but got no response.
Assistant Public Defender Ed Ferguson argued the case against Baldessaro was circumstantial, and while he conceded prosecutors showed enough evidence to send the assault charges to court, there was no evidence Baldessaro tried to kill his mother.
Miller disagreed and bound all charges, including attempted homicide and aggravated assault, over for trial in Blair County Court. Baldessaro remains in Blair County Prison in lieu of $500,000 cash bail.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.