Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Trial Begins in Death of Boy, 2, in Bathtub

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Trial Begins in Death of Boy, 2, in Bathtub

Article excerpt

As Sharon Flanagan entered the Best Western Parkway Center Inn in Green Tree the evening of July 1, 2012, she was carrying her 2-year- old boy.

Wearing a blue T-shirt, shorts and a red plastic fireman's cap, Steven had his arms wrapped around his mother's neck until she plopped him down on the counter while he ate a lollipop.

"He was happy. He was laughing, and he's playing with his mommy while she checks in," said assistant district attorney Lisa Pellegrini. "And the next time anyone sees Baby Steven, he is facedown in the bathtub, lifeless and unresponsive.

"There's no water in the tub. His little red fire hat is in the tub, and his little Crocs."

Ms. Flanagan, 34, of Inwood, W.Va., is charged with homicide in Steven's death, and her trial began Tuesday before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning.

Ms. Pellegrini told the jury of seven women and five men that the defendant was in the midst of a bitter divorce and killed her son to get back at her husband.

When investigators reviewed Ms. Flanagan's history on her computer, the prosecutor said, they found that she had recently searched online for "leading cause of toddler death," and "why is Casey Anthony so popular."

Ms. Pellegrini is seeking a conviction for first-degree murder.

According to several witnesses who testified, Ms. Flanagan exited her sixth-floor room about 8:30 p.m., and began flailing, clutching her stomach and shouting, "My baby. My baby."

She ran to the lobby, where she repeated the behavior.

But Ms. Pellegrini told the jury during her opening, "She never tells anyone 'my baby is in the bathtub. I don't have a card key.'

"Nobody can figure out what's going on."

People staying in the room adjacent to Ms. Flanagan saw her acting strangely in the hallway and thought from the woman's actions that she might have been having a miscarriage.

"She was screaming and clutching at her stomach like she had been kicked or punched or injured," testified Dominic J. …

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