A judge ruled yesterday that the five remaining defendants facing state charges in connection with the starvation-and-neglect death of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly should be tried together.

Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said that the interests of "judicial economy and efficiency" in the case - which is expected to include testimony against all defendants from elderly, young and out-of-town witnesses - outweigh any prejudice that may fall upon any of the defendants.

"A well-instructed jury . . . will not have that much difficulty applying the evidence where it will apply and not applying it where it won't," the judge said.

Danieal, who suffered from cerebral palsy, was found dead insider her mother's Parkside home, on Memorial Avenue near Viola Street, on Aug. 4, 2006. Her bone-thin body was covered with maggot-infested bedsores.

Evan S. Shingles, attorney for the girl's father, Daniel Kelly, 38, argued for his client to face trial separately from the defendants who worked for the city Department of Human Services or MultiEthnic Behavioral Health, an agency contracted to look after Danieal.

Attorneys for the four other defendants - Dana Poindexter, Laura Sommerer, Mickal Kamuvaka and Julius Murray - likewise argued for their cases to be separated from the father's case.

Nathan J. Andrisani, Sommerer's attorney, said that evidence that the commonwealth would introduce against the father would be "gravely prejudicial," even if a jury were properly instructed.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Selber argued that it would be difficult for some of the main witnesses to come to court to testify more than once.

She said that there was a "lot of fingerpointing, a lot of blame-shifting" by the defendants, and said that a jury should be allowed to apportion blame where it sees fit.

Danieal's mother, Andrea Kelly, 39, has pleaded guilty to charges of third-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child and is serving a 20-to-40-year sentence in prison. Three of the mother's friends have pleaded guilty to perjury for lying to the grand jury. *