Trial begins for man charged in death of his children's mother

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RIVERHEAD -

Opening statements were delivered Monday in the trial of a Brentwood man charged with manslaughter in the death of the mother of his children.

Prosecutors say Shantel Scott, 27, was killed by Bryan Bethea, 29, in the early hours of July 3, 2016 during a party at Scott's Central Islip home. They say an argument started between the two and continued to escalate.

Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl told the jury Monday that Scott "grabbed her in a bear hug and slammed her into the ground." That is what Pearl says led to a fracture in Scott's skull and a brain bleed, ultimately causing her death.

But defense attorney Michael Brown disputes that claim. He says there were two other women at the party that night with whom Scott had been fighting.

"They were the aggressors," Brown says. "They were the ones who beat Shantel Scott and, ultimately, they were the ones who caused her death."

Brian Scott, the victim's father, says he will be in the courthouse every day of the trial hoping for justice for his daughter, who he says was a victim of domestic violence.

"Just pray for the family. Pray to God that this guy gets convicted," he says. "And I say again, any woman in that situation, please try to get out. It's not worth your life."

At the time of Scott's death, Bethea was on parole for a 2009 conviction of attempted robbery.

The trial continues Tuesday in Riverhead.

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