The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 4, 2012

Evening News Brief | Nativity scene's baby Jesus returned, replacement swiped




Police probe death of 'community leader'

MONESSEN — Police have been investigating the fatal shooting of a man described as a "community leader" in southwestern Pennsylvania, but who court records show has a long history of drug and other charges.

Neighbors tell Monessen police they heard up to a dozen shots before 36-year-old Christopher Fincik was found shot to death near a rear door, which he apparently answered before he was found slain about 12:30 a.m. Monday.

Neighbors say they're shocked because Fincik hosted a free Fourth of July fireworks display and a Christmas program for poorer people in this former mill town about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.

But online court records show he's done time for drug trafficking and been arrested for various offenses, including assault, dating to 1995.

Police haven't named any suspects in the shooting.


Ex-councilman granted bond in woman's 1979 killing

BRIDGEWATER — A judge says a former western Pennsylvania borough councilman can get out of jail until his cold-case murder trial if he posts $100,000 cash or $200,000 worth of property.

Sixty-six-year-old Gregory Hopkins, a former Bridgewater councilman, had not posted the bond yet Tuesday and remained in the Beaver County Jail.

He was arrested in January and charged in the 1979 death of 23-year-old Catherine Walsh, and was supposed to go to trial last month. He had been held without bond, but his attorney asked that bail be set when last month's trial was delayed indefinitely.

That happened because the DA appealed a judge's ruling that a pathologist's report was "too vague and imprecise" for the doctor to testify as a prosecution expert.

Hopkins has denied killing Walsh, but acknowledges a sexual relationship that ended before she died.


School defending 10 Commandments monument

CONNELLSVILLE — A southwestern Pennsylvania school district is defending a Ten Commandments monument on school grounds by arguing that it's not promoting any one religion and was the gift of a secular fraternal organization.

Attorneys for the Connellsville Area School District have covered the monument in plywood until a federal lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin-based atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, is resolved. The school is about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

School attorneys say in a document seeking to have the federal lawsuit dismissed that the monument was one of hundreds donated to schools by local chapters of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in the late 1950s. They say it's adorned with other symbols, including an American flag and two Stars of David, and doesn't endorse any particular religion but rather "moral and historical ideals."


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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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