The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 5, 2013

Death penalty not an option for shooting suspect

EBENSBURG — The man accused of shooting an acquaintance at a West End apartment over a $20 debt will not face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.

Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Tamara Bernstein said that after reviewing the case of Lemmel Dashawn Myers, charged in the shooting death of Leslie “Bill” Schetrompf, none of the elements needed for the death penalty were present.

“There are 18 aggravating factors and circumstances in this case. We could not find any of those 18 factors,” Bernstein told Cambria County Judge Linda Fleming. “Therefore, the commonwealth will not be seeking the death penalty.”

Police allege that on July 24, Myers shot Schetrompf inside an apartment complex at 153 Fairfield Ave. after the victim and his girlfriend came to collect a $20 debt.

Allegations are that Myers, charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault and related charges, shot Schetrompf in the leg then fled.

The victim’s girlfriend, Melissa Veldez, testified at a September preliminary hearing that she parked the car they were traveling in at the back of the apartment building and Schetrompf walked down the alley to the front door.

She soon heard a popping noise then saw Schetrompf staggering back toward the car with blood clearly visible.

He climbed into the passenger side of the car and lost consciousness.

But before doing so, he told Veldez that “Mel,” a nickname for Myers, had shot him.

An ambulance arrived and took Schetrompf to Memorial Medical Center, where he spent three days in intensive care before dying of exsanguination – massive blood loss.

An autopsy showed that Schetrompf had cocaine in his system, according to Cambria County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeffrey Lees.

Indications at the preliminary hearing are that Myers’ attorneys, George Bills and Arnold Bernard of Pittsburgh, may attempt to show in trial that their client was defending himself from the victim.

Schetrompf allegedly threatened Myers with a machete, according to testimony in September.

Fleming outlined for Myers on Tuesday the pretrial and discovery process, in which the prosecution must turn over to the defense information it plans to use at trial.

Bernstein said that much of the information already has been turned over to the defense. She is waiting for a few additional items including the 911 call made after the shooting.

Schetrompf was 37 and lived in the Roxbury section of the city.

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

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