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March 18, 2014

Court allows man to defend himself

EBENSBURG — If all goes as outlined in court Tuesday, the Johnstown man who allegedly fired a shotgun into an unoccupied Richland Township police cruiser will go to trial early next month.

And he will be representing himself.

Kevin McGee, 46, was scheduled for a suppression conference before Cambria County Judge David Tulowitzki. When McGee reiterated a statement made in January that he was dissatisfied with his defense attorney, Tulowitzki gave permission for McGee to defend himself.

Over McGee’s objection, attorney John Lovette of the county public defender’s office was appointed as standby counsel for the trial. Jury selection is set for April 3.

“I’m not going to let this case continue (be postponed). This case is going to trial on the scheduled date,” Tulowitzki said.

McGee is charged with two counts of attempted homicide, assault of a law enforcement official, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, terroristic threats and criminal mischief.

Police allege that on Sept. 13, 2012, McGee went to the Richland municipal building and fired a gun into a police cruiser.

When McGee refused to respond to orders from police to put down the gun, an officer inside the building fired a single shot through an open window and hit McGee, according to the findings in a police investigation.

McGee was struck in the torso and treated at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.

Since then he has been housed at the Cambria County Prison.

Before granting McGee’s request to defend himself, Tulowitzki asked him a number of questions to determine whether he understood the gravity of his actions and possible sentence if convicted.

McGee, who stood with Chief Deputy Sheriff Gary Makosy and three other deputies in close proximity, said he did not wish to be represented by anyone from the public defenders office. He maintained it was his constitutional right to choose who would represent him.

Tulowitzki said that unless McGee paid for private counsel, the public defenders office was his only option.

The judge gave McGee, who is to confer with Lovette, until Friday to file any motions in the case and continued the suppression hearing until March 25.

McGee also has until Friday to give copies of his motions to Assistant District Attorney Forrest Fordham, who is prosecuting the case.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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