The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

November 7, 2013

Man draws prison term in girl’s death

EBENSBURG — Raegan Panick, a trusting 22-month-old girl who loved to play in her sandbox, was brutally murdered in

August 2012 after being left with her mother’s boyfriend.

On Thursday, the boyfriend – Patrick L. Burkett, 26, of Beaverdale – was sentenced in Cambria County court to 13 to  30 years in state prison for third-degree murder.

President Judge Timothy Creany imposed the sentence on Burkett, who admitted killing the child.

Creany asked Burkett to explain why he killed the girl.

“It’s puzzling to me why it happened and how it happened,” Creany said.

“It was just one of those days,” Burkett said. “I just lost it. I shook her and hit her head on the floor. I don’t know why I did it.

“I’m very sorry to RaeAnn

and her family for what I did,” he said.

About 20 family members attended the sentencing. Three offered emotional statements, asking the Creany to impose the maximum sentence. The judge gave Burkett the maximum sentence according to sentencing guidelines.

“She was my only child,” RaeAnn George said as she fought back tears.

“I spent her third birthday at her grave,” she said. “I’ll never get to hold her or kiss her ever again.”

Maternal grandmother Gail George said the girl trusted Burkett because her mother trusted him.

“The person who was supposed to protect her took her life and tried to cover it up,” she said.

Investigators at the time said Burkett was baby-sitting the toddler while her mother was at work. The mother found Raegan unresponsive when she returned home. The girl was taken to Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown and then flown by medical helicopter to Pittsburgh, where she died a day later.

Investigators said Burkett initially offered several reasons for the child’s injuries, including falls in different areas of the house and outside.

Assistant District Attorney Beth Bolton Penna said the girl died from massive head injuries equivalent to a fall from a three-story building. The hemorrhaging was so severe that if Raegan had survived she would have been blind in both eyes, she said.

“Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh said it was one of the worst cases of child abuse they’ve seen,” Bolton Penna said.

Burkett sat between public defenders Patricia Moore and John Lovette III with his face buried in his hands. He sobbed as he listened to family members recall the cheerful little girl they called an angel.

“Reagan was a little angel,” paternal grandmother Betty Gordon said. “I can’t imagine  why anyone would do that to an innocent baby.”

Burkett told the judge he has never been in jail before and has a child he wishes to care for.

Bolton Penna said Burkett’s daughter is the same age as Raegan was at the time she was killed.

“This is not the type of person who should be allowed to parent a child,” she said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 19, 2014

  • VIDEO | Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 19, 2014

  • Denne, Williams & Stanton Records hearing scheduled

    A Cambria County judge will consider complaints filed by two Johnstown residents seeking documents related to the city’s municipal waste water operation at hearing at the end of this month.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sen. Bob Casey Casey targets heroin

    The heroin trade has brought addiction, death, violence and theft to Johnstown and other Pennsylvania communities.
    Figuring out how to deal with those issues is difficult for local, state and federal officials.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drive-in to open with high-tech projector

    Drive-in movie theaters and the term “state of the art” seldom share the same sentence.
    But that will soon be the case for the Silver Drive-In, it’s owner said. The Scalp Avenue site, often marketed as a nostalgic summer night escape, soon will boast a high-end projector capable of displaying the latest and greatest blockbusters in razor sharp high-definition, theater owner Rick Rosco said.

    April 18, 2014

  • Sheetz work underway

    Earthmoving is underway at Richland Town Centre for a nearly 6,500-square-foot Sheetz store.
    And the real estate broker marketing the land says a 3,000-square-foot retail building will be built next door.

    April 18, 2014

  • Smith, Shakir Mosi Police seize heroin, money in Prospect

    Johnstown police reported that several bricks of heroin, along with $4,000 in cash and a handgun, were discovered in the city's Prospect neighborhood around 4 a.m. Friday. An arrest warrant has been issued for the man be­lieved to be the owner or renter of the two homes raided.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Comedy night targets serious problem

    Animal advocates are using comedy to take aim at a serious problem.
    The third annual Funny Fundraiser to benefit the Nardecchia Spay and Neuter Fund will be held at 8 p.m. May 16 at Ace’s, 316 Chestnut St. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

    April 18, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/19/2014

    April 18, 2014

  • Early morning police raid in Prospect area leads to arrest warrant

    Johnstown police reported that several bricks of heroin, along with $4,000 in cash and a handgun, were discovered in the city's Prospect neighborhood around 4 a.m. this morning.

    April 18, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads