Cambria County’s high homicide rate could have an adverse effect on the jury hearing the murder trial of Shahliek Maxwell Greene, his defense lawyer argued Friday.
Ebensburg attorney David Beyer told Judge David Tulowitzki that a jury from outside the area is the only way his client will not be tainted.
“Because of the high number of homicides, solved and unsolved, they’re (citizens) just tired of people being killed, and for that reason, they’re just going to find my client guilty,” Beyer said.
“It seems to me that the folks in Cambria County will come in with the desire to convict someone,” he said.
Eight murders have occurred in Cambria County this year.
Tulowitzki said he will rule on bringing in an out-of-county jury or moving the trial elsewhere if attempts to pick an unbiased jury here fail.
Greene, 19, is charged with homicide and related counts in the Feb. 6 shooting death of Joshua Scott Price, 29, inside a home in the 500 block of Cypress Avenue in the city’s Moxham section.
The killing allegedly occurred over a vehicle, authorities said.
Greene also is charged with aggravated assault, possession of a prohibited firearm and carrying a firearm without a license.
Beyer asked the judge to try the gun-related charges separately because, he said, the prohibited firearm charge would indicate to the jury that Greene had a criminal background before the shooting.
Beyer also is seeking suppression of oral and written statements Greene made to city police detectives Sgt. Thomas Owens and Brett Hinterliter in the hours after Price’s death.
The defense also is questioning the chain of custody of the evidence, in particular shell casings found at the scene.
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Aurandt told the judge that the prosecution will present a ballistics expert and witnesses who were at the scene to testify regarding the evidence.
Tulowitzki said he will rule on the motions prior to the Dec. 9 jury selection.
Testimony in the trial is set to start Dec. 10, Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Wayne Langerholc said.
Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.