MERCER – The trial of a man accused in the starvation and abuse death of a 14-year-old boy is scheduled to begin Nov. 9.
In a hearing Tuesday, Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Robert G. Yeatts on Tuesday heard defense pretrial motions in the prosecution of Paul Alexander Bacorn in the boy’s death.
Bacorn, 29, of 540 District Road, Delaware Township, is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy to commit those crimes and assault in connection with the death.
The boy’s father, Antonio Juan Gonzalez, 34, now held in the State Correctional Institution Fayette, pleaded guilty April 24 to first-degree murder and has been sentenced to life in prison.
Both men were accused of abuse and neglect in the death of Gonzalez’s 14-year-old son, Oct. 24, 2019, at the District Road residence. Authorities believe starvation contributed to the boy’s death.
Defense attorney David Wenger submitted motions including asking for permission to use the public defender’s investigator and to bring in an independent pathologist to work on the case.
Yeatts granted both motions, but asked if the measures would delay the start of trial. Wenger said he does not foresee any delays.
“Should defense counsel become aware that the November trial date needs delayed, they need to inform the court immediately,” Yeatts said.
The judge also requested that the Mercer County Jail administration allow Bacorn access to a laptop computer, with his trial to begin soon.
The prosecution and defense cannot comment on the case due to a previously issued gag order.
Bacorn, who participated in Tuesday’s hearing by video, remains in Mercer County Jail awaiting trial.
The prosecution claims he was involved, along with Gonzalez, in causing the teenage boy’s abuse and starvation death.
According to a criminal complaint filed by state police, Mercer County 911 dispatched an ambulance on the morning of Oct. 24 to a trailer on 540 District Road and found the 14-year-old boy unresponsive and not breathing.
The cause of death was determined to be homicide by hypovolemic shock caused by blunt force trauma. Hypovolemic shock is caused by low blood volume, but Mercer County Coroner John Libonati said the effect of the boy’s injuries was exacerbated by starvation.
Libonati’s office estimated the 14-year-old boy weighed 70 pounds. Police said the boy showed signs of malnutrition and had sustained significant bruising.
Police said in a criminal complaint against Bacorn that he lived in a second trailer, separate from Gonzalez’s residence, on the property and sometimes cared for Gonzalez’s two children – the 14-year-old and a 4-year-old.
Bacorn said he and Gonzalez disciplined the 14-year-old, with punishments that included forcing the boy to stand with his arms raised for times ranging from three minutes to three hours.
Police said Bacorn told them that Gonzalez also withheld food from his son, on one occasion for three days.
A criminal pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30.
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