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McMechen Man Accused of Shaking Baby to Death Waives Court Hearing

Daniel Messner is escorted to his preliminary hearing Friday afternoon in Marshall County Magistrate Court.

MOUNDSVILLE — A Marshall County man accused of fatally shaking his infant son in November waived his right to a preliminary hearing Friday afternoon, although his family said they do not believe he killed the child.

Daniel Jacob Messner, 25, of 45 E. Eighth St., McMechen, was charged earlier this month with death of a child by a parent by child abuse after he allegedly shook the 3-month-old boy Nov. 18, causing brain bleeds that investigators said eventually killed the child three days later.

Messner’s mother, Pamela, and the child’s mother, Stefanie Letteney, waited outside the preliminary hearing and proclaimed his innocence, claiming the baby was born with a heart defect and various other health issues, according to their medical records.

“If you ever saw (Messner) with that baby … he loved that baby with everything in him,” Pamela Messner said of her son. “He was the most beautiful baby. His daddy loved him.”

But Marshall County Prosecutor Rhonda Wade disputed the claim that the baby died of natural causes, pointing to the fact the child’s heart and several other organs were donated to various children.

Doctors at Wheeling Hospital, where the boy was originally taken, told police that the child suffered from bleeding in the brain and they suspected skull fracture, according to investigators.

Wade is working with the staff at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, where the child ultimately died, and had planned to call one doctor to testify at the preliminary hearing.

“The medical evidence is strong,” Wade said.

Messner’s defense attorney, Mark Panepinto, said he could not discuss specifics of the case, but he would be reviewing the child’s medical history before proceeding.

“There will be a lot of medical records in this case, and we’ll give a thorough exploration of them,” Panepinto said.

Messner spoke only briefly during the hearing to acknowledge a question from Marshall County Magistrate Zachary Allman that he understood he was waiving his right to the preliminary hearing.

His case will now go before a Marshall County grand jury, possibly in March. Messner is being held at the Northern Regional Jail on $500,000 bond.

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