Saturday, March 20, 2010

Jury asks to hear dad's confession again; accused of killing toddler (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

We've posted on this trial and dad WILLIAM PAGE a few times. Honestly, I can't even bring myself to summarize the major points again. It's too repulsive.

Jury asks to hear father's confession again
Accused of killing Braddock toddler

Saturday, March 20, 2010
By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In the picture, Nyia Page's wide, dark brown eyes sparkle. The toddler's ears are pierced, and her hair is pulled back, revealing big round cheeks.

Her lips are parted just enough to wonder whether she was simply smiling or maybe about to laugh.

That was the picture that the prosecutor left up on the screen in the courtroom during his nearly two-hour closing argument.

"That's a picture of Nyia Page the way she was when she was murdered by her father," said Deputy District Attorney Mark V. Tranquilli. "That's the way she was about the time she was molested by her father.

"That represents all Nyia Page ever was, and all she would ever be because of the actions of her father, William Page."

Mr. Page, 26, of Braddock, is accused of leaving Nyia, dressed in only a sweater, in an overgrown playground in Rankin in the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 2007.

The 23-month-old died from hypothermia and exposure. Her body was found frozen to the ground the next day.

Jurors in the case before Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge David R. Cashman began deliberating Friday afternoon.

They returned to the courtroom late in the day to ask if they could hear again the testimony of the officer who informed Mr. Page his daughter was found dead. In addition, they have asked to listen again to Mr. Page's recorded confession.

That will happen when they reconvene on Monday morning.

Mr. Page, who was arrested just hours after Nyia was reported missing on charges that he sexually molested another boy in the house, told police twice that he was responsible for Nyia's death.

The first time he said that he backhanded the girl, causing her to fall and cut her head open. Mr. Page then told officers he took the girl out to the railroad tracks and left her there.

Then a few days later, on Feb. 7, 2007, Mr. Page, in a recorded confession, said he kicked her between her legs because he was angry she kept removing her diaper. She began to bleed. The man said that he tried to stop the bleeding, and then wrapped Nyia in a blanket, walked a third of a mile away and left her in an overgrown playground.

The defense has asked jurors to ignore those two confessions because Mr. Page had been repeatedly questioned and made the stories up to make the interrogations stop.

Defense attorney Christopher Patarini told the jury during closing arguments that the prosecution had to prove that Mr. Page's statements were given freely and voluntarily before they could even consider their truthfulness.

"He made those statements, but he made them up," Mr. Patarini said. "If you evaluate this case closely, you'll find you can't make the conclusions the commonwealth wants you to make."

He asked the jurors not to jump to conclusions to reach a guilty verdict.

The forensic pathologist who performed Nyia's autopsy found no physical evidence of sexual assault, Mr. Patarini said. The district attorney's office then called in an outside expert in child sex abuse, who said she believed that there was such evidence.

But Mr. Patarini told the jurors that the expert never examined Nyia's body -- only photographs.

"Remember, you are not supposed to speculate. You are not supposed to make a decision based on suspicion," Mr. Patarini said. "The whole case is asking you to make a leap of faith."

But Mr. Tranquilli said that there was blood found in Nyia's vagina, and there was blood on Mr. Page's Terrible Towel, as well as on a T-shirt and underwear found in the basement where he spent a lot of time.

Nyia had no other wounds on her body that could have produced that amount of blood, the prosecutor said.

"What did William Page do to Nyia that was terrible enough that she had to die?" he asked. "It had to be something unspeakable.

"You don't want to believe that a man could do this to his own child. William Page was sexually frustrated. He was a man of gross sexual appetite, and he was frustrated."

Paula Reed Ward: or 412-263-2620.

Read more: