Trial set for inmate accused in 2018 beating death of Pa. corrections officer

Sgt. Mark Baserman, 60, died of blunt force trauma less than two weeks after he was assaulted by an inmate


By Patrick Buchnowski
The Tribune-Democrat

SOMERSET, Pa. — The murder trial of a Pittsburgh man accused of the February 2018 beating death of SCI-Somerset Sgt. Mark J. Baserman is scheduled for May, authorities said.

Jury selection for Paul Jawon Kendrick, 27, will begin May 8.

Sgt. Mark Baserman.
Sgt. Mark Baserman. (Officer Down Memorial Page)

The trial before Somerset County President Judge D. Gregory Geary is expected to last three weeks.

"I am excited to finally have a date and get the trial underway in order to deliver justice to the Baserman family," Acting Somerset County District Attorney Molly Metzgar said. "Since I have taken over the office, we have received a defense continuance request every term.

"This case is a priority for the office, and we plan to dedicate all resources to it," Metzgar said. "We have kept in touch with the family, providing regular updates."

Metzgar and Assistant District Attorneys Tom Leiden and Christina DeMarco-Breeden are seeking the death penalty.

Kendrick, who was already serving a life sentenced for a 2014 murder in Pittsburgh, allegedly murdered Baserman as he sat at a desk in a housing unit's day room on Feb. 15, 2018.

Kendrick approached the officer and struck him in the face, knocking him to the floor and then punched and kicked him in the head. Kendrick also attacked and injured another corrections officer.

[EARLIER: Pa. bridge renamed in honor of slain corrections officer]

Baserman, 60, of Stonycreek Township, died of blunt force trauma less than two weeks later at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.

Baserman had been working for the Department of Corrections since 2007, and spent his last five years at SCI-Somerset.

When state police charged Kendrick, then-District Attorney Lisa Lazzari Strasiser listed several aggravating circumstances that she said made Kendrick's alleged crime worthy of capital punishment.

Those factors, she said, included the fact that Baserman was a corrections officer performing his duties at the time of the attack; that Kendrick committed the homicide while in the process of committing another felony, aggravated assault; that Kendrick was serving a life sentence at the time of the attack; and that Kendrick had committed a pervious murder.

Kendrick is being held at SCI-Fayette. He is charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, assault by a life prisoner and simple assault.

In a January 2019 letter sent to The Tribune-Democrat, Kendrick alleged that corrections officers at SCI-Huntingdon had beat him and placed human waste in his food.

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