Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

BRIEFLY [Derived Headline]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

BRIEFLY [Derived Headline]

Article excerpt

TRIAL OPENS IN SPRING GARDEN HOMICIDE

Melissa Snodgrass told her mother she was going to walk to a nearby convenience store the morning of Sept. 7, 2003, to get something to drink.

That same morning, Snodgrass told her friend she was to meet later in the day that she was going to meet a man named "White Mike" to complete a drug transaction.

Neither woman ever saw Snodgrass, 21, alive again.

Her mummified body was discovered six months later in the basement of a Spring Garden home under a pile of clothes and garbage where Mike Benintend, or "White Mike," lived. The body of her family's dog, Baby, a Chihuahua-terrier mix, was with her.

This morning, trial began for Michael Molina, 42, who is accused of beating Snodgrass to death.

Chief trial deputy district attorney Daniel Fitzsimmons told the jury during his opening that he would call two key witnesses during the trial - one, Pamela Deloe, who witnessed the attack, and Benintend, who pleaded guilty to his involvement in it.

But defense attorney Thomas N. Farrell told the jury that Benintend was just trying to shift the blame to someone else and that Deloe is an unreliable witness, who has lied repeatedly about what she claims she saw.

"She's a drug addict. She's a prostitute, and she doesn't like Michael Molina," he said.

Deloe told police that Molina beat her so badly she had to go to St. Margaret's Hospital, and told her "'I'm going to kill you just like I killed Missy."

"Pretty powerful stuff," Mr. Farrell said. "But there's one problem: she only went to St. Margaret's one time - and that's when he attacked her - and that was one month before the homicide."

US STEEL TO IDLE ILL. PLANT

U.S. Steel said today it will temporarily idle its Granite City Works in Illinois and issue layoff warnings to 2,080 workers at the mill, the latest in a series of steps the Pittsburgh steelmaker has taken in response to sagging demand and rising imports.

The Granite City complex supplies flat-roll steel to the company's Lone Star, Texas, tubular business, which has been dented by cutbacks among oil producers in response to falling prices. …

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