The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

September 19, 2013

State in brief 9/20/201

Ligonier resident convicted of killing 2

GREENSBURG – A jury has convicted a Ligonier man of killing a couple after he went to their home to buy marijuana.

Eric Hall, 30, acknowledged going to the home but said he didn’t kill Anthony Henderson and Noelle Richards in Washington Township on Aug. 28, 2011. Instead, Hall said he discovered their dead bodies and got rid of his bloody clothes and a gun like that used to shoot the couple simply because he didn’t want to get involved.

But Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck convinced the jury to convict Hall of first- and second-degree murder late Thursday.

Other witnesses said Hall threatened them with a baseball bat as they saw him flee the residence as the others also arrived to buy drugs. Peck said Hall also had bludgeoned Henderson with the bat.

Man gets 21 years for recording child sex

PITTSBURGH – A Westmoreland County man has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for pleading guilty to secretly video recording his sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl in 2009.

But Timothy Eugene Shearer, 55, of Avonmore, could face more time if he’s convicted next month in Westmoreland County of 17 charges that he molested and exposed himself to the same girl and a 4-year-old boy.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh ordered that all but six years of the 21-year sentence imposed Wednesday will run concurrent to any state sentence Shearer receives. That means Shearer will spend six years in federal prison after he finishes any state sentence.

Federal authorities filed the child pornography charge after Shearer’s relatives last year found a tape labeled “Wildlife 3” that contained the assault on the girl.

Police issue DUI to man on riding mower

MURRYSVILLE – A western Pennsylvania man has been charged with driving drunk while carrying an open can of beer – on a riding lawn mower.

Murrysville police say they found 55-year-old Thomas Marrone driving the mower along a road shortly before

1:30 a.m. Aug. 30.

Police said Marrone smelled of alcohol and had an open can of Coors Light beer in the mower’s storage compartment. They said he told them he was driving to his Murrysville home – some 6.4 miles away.

Test case on 911 calls, evictions set for trial

PHILADELPHIA – A federal judge on Thursday ordered a trial to decide whether towns can force the eviction of tenants who make too many 911 calls, a national test case pitting free speech rights against community safety concerns.

U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno said he expects the “complex and novel” case to reach a federal appeals court.

The American Civil Liberties Union believes the laws endanger domestic violence victims and violate their free-speech rights. The group’s Women’s Rights Projects had been looking for a test case and found one in nursing assistant Lakisha Briggs, a single mother living in a rowhouse in Norristown under a federal subsidized rent program.

An ordinance in the Philadelphia suburb fines landlords and orders them to evict tenants who make three 911 calls within four months. Norristown officials say the laws are designed to promote peaceful neighborhoods and discourage nuisance calls.

After a series of police calls involving arguments with her 21-year-old daughter and others, Briggs was afraid to call police during an attack by an ex-boyfriend last year. A neighbor eventually called, over Briggs’ protests, and the severely injured Briggs was airlifted to a hospital.

“This woman was being battered in her home and was silenced,” Peter M. Smith, a private lawyer working with the ACLU, argued Thursday.

Judge approves plan to fix Hbg. finances

HARRISBURG – A Pennsylvania judge said Thursday that she will approve a plan to help rescue the state’s capital from the brink of bankruptcy.

Commonwealth Court Judge Bonnie Leadbetter made the remark after a two-hour hearing on the plan assembled by the state-appointed financial custodian for Harrisburg.

Harrisburg receiver William Lynch submitted the plan last month in a bid to relieve hundreds of millions of dollars of debt and erase the city’s persistent budget shortfalls. It involves selling the city’s municipal trash incinerator, whose $350 million debt the city is unable to repay.

Leadbetter called the plan “the best chance I think this city has seen in a long time,” an important stamp of approval going forward, though not all of elements of the sprawling deal have been finalized.

Wife sues airline after hubby’s ashes vanish

PHILADELPHIA – A suburban Philadelphia woman is suing US Airways, saying her husband’s ashes disappeared from her luggage as she flew to England to bury them in his hometown of Hull.

Angeline O’Grady’s husband, Brian, died of cancer in October 2011. She was flying his ashes to England the following month when she said the Transportation Security Administration told her she couldn’t take the ashes through security at Philadelphia International Airport.

O’Grady said she was directed to the US Airways counter and put the ashes in her checked luggage. The Trumbauersville woman said the ashes were missing when she touched down in England.

 

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