The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 4, 2013

MORNING BRIEFING: Pittsburgh girl, 6, crashes car in bid to see dad

A.P. briefs from around the state

Associated Press


Pittsburgh police say a determined 6-year-old girl didn't hurt anyone when she crashed her mother's car while trying to drive across town to visit her father.

Police haven't released the name of the girl whose mother was reportedly still sleeping when the girl took the woman's car keys about 9 a.m. Sunday.

Police Sgt. Jerry Parker tells reporters the little girl is tall for her age, but adds: "How she knew how to operate a car, your guess is as good as mine."

Police say the girl hit two parked vehicles, pushing one of them into a third, before hitting a utility pole.

Police and the girl's father arrived to take her home after the accident.

Police are still investigating but haven't said if anyone will face charges.


Police: Westmoreland County man tried to shoot stepson at dump

SMITHTON — A western Pennsylvania man has been jailed on charges he tried to shoot his stepson when the younger man arrived at a dump site where his stepfather was shooting guns with two other people

State troopers from the Belle Vernon barracks say 49-year-old Ronald Roth, of Smithton, didn't explain why he allegedly aimed two shots at 21-year-old Clinton Metz, who wasn't injured in the incident Saturday afternoon.

Online court records don't list an attorney for Roth who was arrested Sunday, after police investigated the incident which allegedly occurred about 3 p.m. Saturday at a dump site in South Huntingdon Township.

Roth faces a preliminary hearing Feb. 13 on charges including attempted homicide and reckless endangerment. He remained in the Westmoreland County Prison on Monday, unable to post $25,000 bond.


Ex-law clerk, others to testify in Melvin trial

PITTSBURGH — A law clerk who worked for suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin when Melvin was a lower court judge is expected to continue testifying in the campaign corruption trial of her former boss.

Lisa Sasinoski said Friday she was "ashamed" of doing political work on Melvin's 2003 Supreme Court campaign, when Sasinoski was Melvin's Superior Court law clerk.

Sasinoski says she was fired two days after she objected to the allegedly illegal work, though Melvin's camp disputes that and says Sasinoski quit to work for Max Baer, who beat Melvin in the 2003 election to become a Supreme Court justice. Sasinoski still works for Baer on the high court.

Melvin was elected to the Supreme Court in 2009 and is charged with misusing her state-paid Superior Court staff for political campaigning.


Hunters bag 58 coyotes in northeastern Pa. hunt

TUNKHANNOCK — Hunters have bagged 58 coyotes during an annual hunt in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Organizers say 841 hunters participated in the Northeastern Regional Coyote Hunt, which ended Sunday and is in its 13th year. It's organized by District 9 of the Pennsylvania Trapper's Association.

The heaviest coyote taken during the three-day hunt weighed nearly 47 pounds and was taken in Susquehanna County. That county also produced the most coyotes - 16. Seven coyotes were taken in Luzerne County.

District 9 director Bill Kalinauskis says the conditions for the hunt were excellent this year, especially with snow in some areas.

Last year, 817 hunters bagged 53 coyotes.


Philly drug kingpin goes on trial in arson deaths

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia drug kingpin and two others could face the death penalty when their trial opens tonday on charges they killed a dozen people.

Authorities say Kaboni Savage ordered the 2004 firebombing of suspected informant Eugene Coleman's home, killing his mother, toddler son and four other relatives.

Savage is already serving 30 years for drug trafficking. The 2007 indictment charges his sister, Kidada Savage, with paying for the 2004 arson in north Philadelphia.

Jury selection has taken months at the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, in part because of the government's plan to seek the death penalty against Savage and two other men.

Savage is already serving 30 years for drug trafficking. Authorities say he had witnesses and rival drug dealers killed to protect a multimillion-dollar North Philadelphia drug operation.


Police, coroner probe man's death at Erie bus stop

ERIE — Erie police and the county coroner are trying to determine how a middle-aged man died in a bus stop shelter.

Deputy Coroner Dennis Suschek says the body of 44-year-old Marvin Butler was found on a bench in the shelter about 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

Police determined the man is not homeless, but lived in some nearby apartments. Family members tell investigators they spoke with Butler by phone about 11 p.m. Saturday night.

So far, video from a security camera at a nearby business has revealed no foul play.

The coroner's office says toxicology tests are pending to determine what may have caused the man's death.


Search completed in probe at funeral home

CONESTOGA — Investigators say they've completed their search at a Pennsylvania funeral home where the owner faces charges over four decomposing bodies.

The Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era reports authorities are now going through the records at Gundel Funeral Home in Conestoga. Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman says that will take time.

On Friday, authorities charged the home's owner, 41-year-old Benjamin Siar Jr., with multiple counts of theft by deception and abuse of a corpse after investigators said they found the four decomposing bodies. Investigators say he was paid more than $13,000 by the four families for funeral and cremation services.

Siar is being held in Lancaster County Prison on $250,000 bail. It wasn't clear if he had an attorney.

The remains have been taken to the Lancaster County Forensic Center.


Man fatally shot at Allentown apartment complex

ALLENTOWN — Police are looking for a suspect in a fatal shooting at an apartment complex in Allentown.

WFMZ-TV reports it happened around 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Wynnewood Apartments. Neighbors described the area as quiet, with very little crime typically being reported.

Police haven't released much information on the shooting, which happened in a back unit at the complex. They say an unidentified man in his 20s is dead.

Assistant Police Chief Joe Hanna says the suspect remains on the loose. But he did not release a description.