Uniontown Mother of Dead Infant Wants Statement Tossed

By Zemba, Liz | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 16, 2009 | Go to article overview

Uniontown Mother of Dead Infant Wants Statement Tossed


Zemba, Liz, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


A 3-month-old baby who police allege died at the hands of his mother suffered much abuse in his short life, from a fractured skull and ribs to having a pacifier taped to his mouth so he couldn't cry, according to testimony presented Thursday at a pretrial hearing in Fayette County.

Lori Beth Workman, 26, of Uniontown is charged by city police with homicide in the Sept. 22, 2008, death of her infant son, Homer Workman.

Yesterday's hearing was held at the request of Workman's attorney, Mary Campbell Spegar. Spegar wants the homicide charge dismissed on the grounds Workman's arrest was made without probable cause. In addition, she wants Workman's statements to police suppressed, and the exclusion of evidence gathered during a June 3 search of the woman's residence.

Judge Ralph Warman, who heard the testimony yesterday, did not issue a ruling. Workman is in the Fayette County Prison without bond.

Police say Workman admitted to striking Homer twice with crib railings in August 2008 when the infant would not stop crying. She told police that on other occasions she squeezed the infant tightly or allowed his head to strike the handle of a baby stroller repeatedly as she held him.

During a hearing yesterday to determine whether statements and evidence gathered during the investigation should be admitted at trial, Coroner Phillip Reilly testified that Homer died of blunt- force trauma to the head and a fractured skull.

In addition, Reilly testified that an autopsy revealed Homer's brain was significantly underdeveloped.

"On the left side, it was somewhat smaller than it would be expected to be," Reilly said. "On the right side, it was dramatically undeveloped and basically had reached half-size."

Reilly said a team of physicians who reviewed the findings at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia attributed the underdeveloped brain to traumatic injury, as opposed to an underlying medical condition.

Other injuries uncovered during an autopsy by forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht included recent and old injuries to the infant's left rib cage, Reilly said. …

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