Jury selection begins today in the case of a West Virginia woman accused of killing her toddler in a hotel room bathtub in Green Tree.
Prosecutors are seeking a conviction for first-degree murder against Sharon Flanagan, 34, of Inwood.
She is charged with homicide, aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children stemming from an incident July 1, 2012, at the Best Western Parkway Center Inn on Greentree Road.
According to police, paramedics found her son, Steven, 2, unconscious in their room after a hotel guest and security guard pulled him from the tub where he was found face down in water. The boy died five days later.
Ms. Flanagan has denied intentionally hurting the boy.
According to the complaint, she and the boy had only been in the hotel about two hours. Ms. Flanagan told investigators her son ended up face down in the tub and that she could not lift the 32-pound boy out, even though hotel surveillance footage showed Ms. Flanagan carrying the boy with ease.
"I wanted to get him out of the tub, but I just couldn't do it," she said during her interview with police.
Investigators said Ms. Flanagan's explanations of the incident were inconsistent and implausible.
According to the criminal complaint, local detectives were told by officials in the Berkeley County, W.Va., sheriff's department that Ms. Flanagan previously threatened to kill herself and Steven.
Since her arrest, Ms. Flanagan spent time at Torrance State Hospital and was diagnosed with depression and borderline personality disorder. She is back at the Allegheny County Jail.
In May, officers filed separate felony wiretap charges against Ms. Flanagan, alleging that she used a device inside her bag to record six hours of conversation with them when they interviewed her about what happened to her son.
They didn't find out about the recording device until they were preparing for trial. It is illegal in Pennsylvania to record someone's voice without permission.
Those charges will be tried separately from the homicide case, which is expected to conclude by the end of the week before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning.
Paula Reed Ward: email@example.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.