New at­tor­ney hired in ‘Scotty’ mur­der case

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

WEST CH­ESTER >> The man al­legedly at the cen­ter of the bru­tal mur­der of 3-year-old Scott “Scotty” McMil­lan has hired a new at­tor­ney to rep­re­sent him in the death penalty case he faces, a move that is not ex­pected to de­lay the even­tual trial next year, ac­cord­ing to those in­volved.

Gary Lee Fel­len­baum III ap­peared in Com­mon Pleas Court Mon­day be­fore Judge Wil­liam P. Ma­hon to for­mally ask that the two mem­bers of the Ch­ester County Public De­fender’s Of­fice rep­re­sent­ing him be re­moved from the case and his new, pri­vate at­tor­ney, al­lowed to ap­pear on his be­half.

His new at­tor­ney, Ge­orge Ya­coubian of Philadel­phia, en­tered his ap­pear­ance on May 25.

First As­sis­tant Public De­fender Nathan M. Schenker, who along with As­sis­tant Public De­fender Loreen Kemps had rep­re­sented Fel­len­baum since his ar­rest in Novem­ber 2014, asked

Ma­hon to for­mally al­low them to withdraw as his at­tor­neys. Ma­hon did so af­ter ask­ing Fel­len­baum if that was what he wanted.

Fel­len­baum, 24, clean shaven and dressed in a black T-shirt and black pants, said it was. He did not elab­o­rate on why he chose to switch at­tor­neys.

“Are you com­fort­able with this?” Ma­hon asked Fel­len­baum. “Yes,” the de­fen­dant an­swered.

Af­ter­ward, Fel­len­baum was re­turned to Ch­ester County Prison, where he has been held with­out bail since his ar­rest. Ya­coubian de­clined com­ment out­side the court­room.

Ya­coubian, a for­mer pros­e­cu­tor who has rep­re­sented clients such as the lead de­fen­dant in the so­called “Ta­cony House of Hor­rors” case in Philadel­phia, and who was briefly men­tioned as a pos­si­ble rep­re­sen­ta­tive of for­mer tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Don Tollef­son, will now get all the dis­cov­ery and de­fense re­lated ma­te­rial that the Public De­fender’s Of­fice has re­ceived in the in­ter­ven­ing months since Fel­len­baum’s ar­rest.

Ya­coubian told Ma­hon that he would be pre­pared for a pre-trial con­fer­ence to dis­cuss sched­ul­ing later this sum­mer, and that he ex­pected to be­gin fil­ing pre­trial mo­tions on be­half of his client in Septem­ber.

Ma­hon asked if he would be ready to try to case in May 2017, and Ya­coubian in­di­cated that he would, ab­sent any un­fore­seen is­sues aris­ing.

First As­sis­tant Michael Noone, who is prose­cut­ing the case with Deputy District At­tor­ney Deb­o­rah Ryan of the DA’s Child Abuse Unit, asked whether Ya­coubian was go­ing to need as­sis­tance from a so­called mit­i­ga­tion coun­sel, who would han­dle the case if Fel­len­baum is found guilty of first-de­gree mur­der and con­se­quently faced a penalty phase in the trial. But Ma­hon said he did not ex­pect that Ya­coubian would have to an­swer that ques­tion.

“I am not go­ing to get in and mi­cro-man­age this case,” the judge said.

Scott McMil­lan was found un­re­spon­sive at the West Caln home that his mother, Jil­lian Tait, had been shar­ing with Fel­len­baum, her boyfriend, and his wife, Am­ber Fel­len­baum, some­time in Septem­ber 2014. She had two sons who lived with them, as well as Fel­len­baum’s child.

Begin­ning in Oc­to­ber, ac­cord­ing to the al­le­ga­tions set forth in the case against the Fel­len­baums and Tait, Gary Fel­len­baum be­gan phys­i­cally abus­ing both the boys. The abuse in­cluded punches and beat­ings, but also whip­ping with a crudely fash­ioned “cat o’nine tails,” and ty­ing the boys to chairs or hang­ing them up­side down by their feet.

Al­legedly Fel­len­baum’s beat­ing of Scott McMil­lan es­ca­lated to the point where he could not hold down his food. An­gered, Fel­len­baum al­legedly punched him in the face so hard he fell out of his chair, and later punched him in the stom­ach. The boy be­gan vom­it­ing and later passed out. Al­though Fel­len­baum and Tait tried to re­vive him, they left him alone in a bed­room for sev­eral hours be­fore find­ing him com­pletely un­re­spon­sive.

Both al­legedly gave in­crim­i­nat­ing state­ments to po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors af­ter their ar­rests.

In 2011, Ya­coubian was hired to rep­re­sent Linda Ann We­ston, the al­leged ring­leader in the “Ta­cony House of Hor­rors” case. She was ac­cused of a moun­tain of crimes, in­clud­ing two mur­ders, kid­nap­ping, rack­e­teer­ing, con­spir­acy, hate crimes, wire and mail fraud, sex traf­fick­ing and forced hu­man la­bor.

Au­thor­i­ties said We­ston and four co-de­fen­dants lured and abused men­tally dis­abled peo­ple and stole $212,000 in dis­abil­ity pay­ments.

Six adults and four chil­dren were vic­tim­ized be­tween 2001 and Oc­to­ber 2011 in Philadel­phia, Texas, Vir­ginia and Florida, pros­e­cu­tors said. We­ston and her co-de­fen­dants were ar­rested in Oc­to­ber 2011, af­ter Philadel­phia po­lice dis­cov­ered four vic­tims locked in the filthy base­ment of a Ta­cony apart­ment build­ing.

Ya­coubian was re­moved from the case af­ter it was trans­ferred to fed­eral court. At the time, the judge over­see­ing the trial de­cided that Ya­coubian did not have enough ex­pe­ri­ence with cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment cases in the fed­eral sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to news re­ports.

Last week, the United Way of Ch­ester County ded­i­cated one of its “Born Learn­ing” trail ini­tia­tives at the Struble Trail in Downingtown to honor Scott McMil­lan’s mem­ory.

FILE PHOTO AP PHOTO/CH­ESTER COUNTY DISTRICT AT­TOR­NEY’S OF­FICE

This photo combo of un­dated im­ages pro­vided by the Ch­ester County District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, shows Gary Lee Fel­len­baum, left, and Jil­lian Tait, who were charged Thurs­day, Nov. 6, 2014, with mur­der in the death of Tait’s 3-year-old son, Scott McMil­lan.

FILE PHOTO — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Pic­tured is the late Scott McMil­lan. He was 3 years old at the time of his death.

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