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August 22, 2013

Homicide by vehicle trial to start Monday

Father charged in teenage son’s traffic death

EBENSBURG — The trial of an East Taylor Township man charged with homicide by vehicle in the death of his son is scheduled to begin Monday in Cambria County court.

Meanwhile, the  homicide trial of a Beaverdale man charged in the death of a 22-month-old girl is proceeding on schedule and likely will be held in October.

Twelve jurors and one alternate were chosen Thursday for the trial of Brian J. Roles Sr., 38, of the 100 block of Calhoun Street.

Opening statements by prosecution and defense attorneys are set to begin at 1 p.m. Monday, and the trial is expected to last three or four days, Cambria County Judge  Timothy Creany told jurors.

“We’re hoping to wrap it up Wednesday or Thursday, but there is an outside chance it will go into the next week, depending on the availability of witnesses,” Creany told the jury of six men and six women.

Roles was charged by East Taylor police in the April 8, 2012, accident that killed Brian J. Roles Jr., 16, of the same address.

The elder Roles crashed his pickup truck on Route 271, William Penn Highway, police said.

The impact ejected the younger Roles, a sophomore at Conemaugh Valley High School, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the 2002 Chevrolet pickup driven by the defendant left the roadway while traveling north on a stretch of highway between Johnstown and Mundys Corner. The truck ran up an embankment, struck a utility pole and rolled over.

The younger Roles was not wearing a seat belt, police said at the time.

The cause of his death was listed as head and neck injuries caused by blunt force trauma as a result of the crash.

Another teenager in the vehicle and Roles Sr. were treated at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown following the crash.

The defendant’s driver’s license had been suspended as the result of a 2011 drunken driving accident, authorities said. He was charged with vehicular homicide while driving drunk and related charges.

Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Eric Hochfeld will prose-

cute Roles and Nicholas Banda will be his defense attorney.

Child death case to be tried

The  trial of Patrick Burkett, charged in the August 2012 death of a 22-month-old girl he was baby-sitting, is on schedule.

Jury selection is set for Oct. 16 with testimony to begin as soon as a jury is selected.

The trial likely will last three to four days, said the prosecutor, Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Persio.

Burkett, 26, of Blanche Street, Beaverdale, was watching the toddler, Raegan Panick, on Aug. 10, 2012, while the girl’s mother was at work.

The mother returned to find the child unresponsive and called for help.

Raegan was taken to Memorial Medical Center, then flown by medical helicopter to Pittsburgh, where she died a day later at Children’s Hospital.

The criminal complaint against Burkett listed injuries to the toddler as bruising on the head, abdomen, upper thigh and groin area. She had a fractured skull, retinal hemorrhaging and a herniated brain, medical experts reported.

Burkett told authorities that Raegan sustained the injuries by falling in different areas of the house.

Attorneys Patricia Moore and John Lovette are defending Burkett.

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

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