Split verdict on Notoro

A Warren man accused of sexually abusing a two-month-old child was found not guilty on four of six charges by a jury on Tuesday.

Francis J. Notoro, Warren County Jail, was found guilty on charges of simple assault and endangering the welfare of a child, and not guilty of four charges, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, indecent assault and rape of a child.

The charges stem from a July 15, 2012 incident in which personnel at Warren General Hospital reported to law enforcement suspicious injuries to the body of an infant Notoro had brought to the hospital. Further examination of the injuries found bruising and abrasions consistent with bite marks on various body parts.

The jury of eight men and four women went into deliberation at 7 p.m. and returned at 8:20 p.m.

Notoro had fought to represent himself throughout court proceedings and was allowed to have Public Defender Alan Conn as stand-by counsel for the trial.

A number of physicians and law enforcement officers involved in the care and investigation of the infant when he was brought to WGH testified throughout the trial.

Warren County District Attorney Ross McKeirnan first called Warren City Police Officer Timothy Rooke to testify about his observations when he responded to a call from WGH advising that a two-month old infant had possible signs of abuse.

At the hospital, Rooke told the court, he observed an infant with bruising in the genital area.

“It didn’t appear to be naturally induced,” he said. “I’ve never seen an injury like that.”

Warren General Hospital Emergency Room Physician Dr. Melissa Carter testified as an expert witness the infant’s genital area was “swollen, redden” and the infant’s bruises “appeared to be fairly fresh.”

“Have you seen an injury like this?” McKeirnan asked Carter.

“Not to an infant, no,” she said.

“Could the injuries be self inflicted?” McKeirnan asked later.

“No,” said Carter, adding she called the police “because I was suspicious, the circular bruise around the nipple was suggestive of a bite mark.”

“I can tell you it was not blunt force trauma in that area,” she later said to Notoro during cross examination.

Dr. David McConnell of Warren was the on-call pediatrician and testified as an expert witness he saw the infant the following morning and the infant was “fussy” and a “number of lesions” were visible.

McKeirnan asked McConnell if the injuries around the infant’s genital area could be caused by striking or blunt force trauma.

“No,” McConnell said.

“In all your years have you ever seen anything like this?” McKeirnan asked.

“I’ve never seen bites around various erogenous zones like that,” McConnell said.

McKeirnan later called Pennsylvania State Police Corp. Brian Zybel to testify about questioning Notoro and said he had initially offered at least two different possible explanations for the infant’s injuries during his investigation.

“In both stories he was the sole care-giver and the only person present,” Zybel said.

After further questioning Zybel said Notoro had allegedly “agreed the injuries were caused by his physical mouth” and he had taken medication that had put him in a “zombie-like state.”

“It happened, your mouth made those injuries?” Zybel said, reading from a transcript of the interview with Notoro.

“Yea, and I can’t deny that, but I don’t remember doing it,” he said, reading the transcript.

Notoro called a number of witnesses to testify, most of whom he dismissed after a only a few minutes of questioning.

During his opening statement Notoro told the jury he “did make a mistake” and “I did initially lie to these individuals.”

Notoro later called himself to the stand and said he was alone with the child on the day in question and he “started striking the bed, I did forcibly injure him” after he became upset while looking for a clean cloth diaper.

While Notoro was on the stand McKeirnan questioned him about the number of times he lied about his involvement to the nurses at WGH, the arresting officer and the investigating officer and the detective for the Warren City Police Department.

“That’s at least four time you lied about your involvement,” McKeirnan said.

“Not involvement, how they occurred,” Notoro said.

“But you want the jury to believe you?” McKeirnan asked.

“Yes,” Notoro said.