Trial date sched­uled in McMil­lan mur­der case

A judge has set April 3 as the date the first de­fen­dant will go to trial for the mur­der of 3-year-old “Scotty” McMil­lan

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

The Com­mon Pleas Court judge over­see­ing the cases of three peo­ple ac­cused in the bru­tal tor­ture and mur­der of 3-year-old Scott “Scotty” McMil­lan has set April 3 as the date the first de­fen­dant will go to trial.

On Fri­day, Judge Wil­liam P. Ma­hon ad­dressed the case of Gary Lee Fel­len­baum III with his at­tor­ney, Ge­orge Ya­coubian of Philadel­phia, as well

as with the at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing Fel­len­baum’s girl­friend and co-de­fen­dant in the cap­i­tal mur­der case, Jil­lian Tate.

Ya­co­bian told the judge that he was pre­pared to go for­ward with the trial sched­ule that Ma­hon had set in Au­gust, of get­ting all of the prose­cu­tion’s dis­cov­ery by Sept. 1, of fil­ing all pre-trial mo­tions by Nov. 1, and of start­ing jury se­lec­tion on the first Mon­day in April. Be­cause the prose­cu­tion is seek­ing the death penalty, the se­lec­tion process will likely take the bet­ter part of a week.

Ma­hon said the Ch­ester County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice had sig­naled its in­ten­tion to try each of the de­fen­dants — Fel­lenaum, Tait, and Fel­len­baum’s wife, Am­ber Fel­len­baum — sep­a­rately, begin­ning with Gary Fel­len­baum. But Ya­coubian, who said a re­cent health is­sue he ex­pe­ri­ence would not al­ter his sched­ule in the case, in­di­cated that he would file a mo­tion to con­sol­i­date his client’s case with Tait’s.

Ma­hon said that he had set the same sched­ule for the trial of Tait, in the unan­tic­i­pated event that the case against Fel­len­baum “falls apart” for any rea­son.

But Lau­rence Harmelin, the Wester Ch­ester at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing Tait, told Ma­hon shortly af­ter Ya­coubian’s ap­pear­ance that it ap­peared to him un­likely that his client’s case would go to trial.

“I would say that the like­li­hood of Jil­lian Tait go­ing to trial is well less than 50-50,” Harmelin said dur­ing a dis­cus­sion of the case. “I don’t think that’s go­ing to hap­pen. My ex­pec­ta­tion is that it is go­ing to be worked out” — mean­ing that Tait would en­ter a plea in the case.

Ya­coubian for­mally con­tin­ued Gary Fel­len­baum’s case un­til Ma­hon’s Oc­to­ber trial ses­sion, with the un­der­stand­ing that the mat­ter would not be reached un­til next spring. Nei­ther Gary Fel­len­baum nor Tait were in the court­room while the dis­cus­sions oc­curred. They are be­ing held with­out bail in Ch­ester County Prison.

First As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Michael Noone, who is lead­ing the prose­cu­tion with Deputy Dis­trict At­tor­ney Deb­o­rah Ryan, de­clined com­ment, cit­ing the on­go­ing na­ture of the case.

“Scotty” McMil­lan’s death and the ar­rest of his three al­leged killers drew na­tional and in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion at the time, and still res­onates with those who first hear of it.

On Nov. 4, 2014 Scott McMil­lan was found un­re­spon­sive at the West Caln home that his mother, Tait, had been shar­ing with Gary Fel­len­baum and his wife, Am­ber Fellnbaum some­time in Septem­ber 2014, af­ter a call to 911 from Am­ber Fel­len­baum. Tait had two sons who lived with them, as well as Fel­len­baum’s child.

Begin­ning in Oc­to­ber, ac­cord­ing to the accusations set forth in the case against the Fel­len­baums and Tait, Gary Fel­len­baum be­gan phys­i­cally abus­ing both of Tait’s chil­dren. 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 Gary 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 Gary Fel­len­baum and Tait al­legedly gave in­crim­i­nat­ing state­ments to po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors af­ter their ar­rests.


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


A hand­made cross was posted in front of the Hope Lane mo­bile home where 3 year-old Scott McMil­lan, was abused and killed.


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

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