A battle over whether to allow a defense expert witness — specialized on battered woman syndrome — to testify in Erin Nicole Everett's homicide trial was continued Thursday in Somerset County Court of Common Pleas.
Everett is accused of shooting 21-year-old Tory Elizabeth Minnick twice in the head, then bludgeoning her with a hammer on March 25, 2011, at a home in Jerome. Minnick was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head, according to court documents.
The 27-year-old Jerome resident will face at trial charges of criminal homicide, first- and third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.
Everett's defense attorney, Brent Eric Peck of Uniontown, argued Thursday that "we are here on an issue that should be determined by finder of fact (a jury)."
He called District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser's request — that the defense's expert testimony regarding battered woman syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder be precluded from the trial — premature, untimely and without merit.
Peck told President Judge John M. Cascio, who has presided over all of the pretrial hearings in this case, that the commonwealth was put on notice in October that the defense would claim she was a battered woman and suffered spousal abuse and post-traumatic stress.
Lazzari-Strasiser told Cascio Thursday that she stands behind a brief that lists detailed reasons why she is asking the court to prohibit the expert witness Antoinette-Petrazzi Woods' testimony.
"To allow testimony relative to any history of abuse or as to the aforementioned disorders (battered woman syndrome or post-traumatic Stress disorder) would be unrepresentative of the facts and grossly misleading to the jury," she wrote in a court document.
She told Cascio Thursday that Woods does not qualify as an expert on the issue according to the state standard.
"The defendant has not been diagnosed with battered woman syndrome," she said. In fact, the proposed expert witness indicated that Everett has not been diagnosed with the syndrome and does not meet the criteria, she added.