The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 24, 2012

Evening News Brief | School bus, truck crash - without drivers


Associated Press

BEAVER FALLS — Police don't plan to cite the drivers of a truck and school bus which crashed in western Pennsylvania.

But only because neither vehicle had a driver when they wrecked.

Police in Patterson Township tell the Beaver County Times the incident happened just before 10 a.m. Tuesday when the parked bus began to roll down a hill. Police aren't sure why that happened, because the driver had engaged the parking brake.

The bus rear-ended a parked truck, which also began rolling down the hill alongside the bus, until the truck flipped onto its side. The bus continued on, shearing off one utility pole and hitting another before rolling to a stop a few feet from the porch of a home.

Nobody was hurt.

Patterson Township is about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

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Man charged with causing stepson's cycle crash

MARKLEYSBURG — A western Pennsylvania man has been charged with trying to kill his stepson by running his motorcycle off a road with a pickup truck while the suspect was living with the victim's estranged wife.

A defense attorney for 47-year-old Timothy Rockwell, of Markleysburg, did not immediately return a call for comment on the charges set for a Nov. 28 preliminary hearing.

Police say 37-year-old Alan Rockwell told them the suspect was his uncle before also becoming his stepfather by marrying the younger man's mother. Both men were estranged from their wives when Timothy Rockwell allegedly drove his pickup into the path of Alan Rockwell's motorcycle, causing it to crash April 3.

Defense attorney Jeremy Davis says Timothy Rockwell didn't know who was riding the motorcycle and denies trying to kill his stepson saying, "it was an accident, if anything."

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10- to 20-year term in 1992 infant death

NORRISTOWN — A suburban Philadelphia woman has been sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison in the death of an infant for whom she was baby-sitting two decades ago.

The (Pottstown) Mercury says 39-year-old Melissa Haskell, formerly of Pottstown, choked back tears as she was sentenced Wednesday in Montgomery County Court on a third-degree murder conviction.

She again maintained her innocence in the August 1992 death of 5-month-old Ryan Baurley at a King of Prussia home, saying "I loved that child like he was my own."

Judge Garrett Page said "the jury has spoken" and imposed the maximum sentence allowed under 1992 law.

The death was originally attributed to sudden infant death syndrome, but a coroner later said the boy died of suffocation and acute alcohol intoxication.

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Marshals arrest witness in cop-killing case

PITTSBURGH — Federal marshals have arrested a key, though reluctant, witness in the death penalty trial of a man charged with killed a western Pennsylvania police officer and another man.

The Allegheny County trial for 35-year-old Ronald Robinson was to have begun Monday, but was pushed back to January after prosecutors said they couldn't find the witness.

But now that the witness is in custody, jury selection will begin Nov. 12 and testimony on Nov. 26.

Prosecutors allege that Robinson gunned down Penn Hills officer Michael Crawshaw who arrived at the scene shortly after Robinson allegedly killed 40-year-old Danyal Morton over a $500 drug debt in December 2009.

Prosecutors aren't identifying the reluctant witness because they say he has expressed a fear of testifying. He was taken into custody Tuesday night.

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Search for missing baby continues in Philly suburb

KING OF PRUSSIA — A $30,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the safe return of a 10-month-old baby who was abducted from a suburban Philadelphia apartment where her grandmother was killed.

Saanvi Venna has been missing since her 61-year-old grandmother, Satyavathi Venna, was murdered inside the apartment in King of Prussia. Investigators believe the abduction happened between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday.

Police have been searching the apartment complex and surrounding area. Law enforcement and community groups are offering a $30,000 reward.

Upper Merion Township police say the girl's father, Venkata Konda Siva Venna, and mother, Chenchu Latha Punuru, immigrated to the U.S. from India in February 2007 and moved to the apartment in June.

The grandmother arrived in July and was scheduled to return home in January.

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Former officer cleared in teen stun gun case

MEDIA — A former suburban Philadelphia police officer has been cleared of criminal charges for using a stun gun on a handcuffed teenager inside a holding cell.

A Delaware County judge says former Colwyn police Cpl. Trevor Parham's conduct during the arrest of a 16-year-old suspect did not rise to the level of criminal conduct.

Parham had been charged with simple assault and official oppression in connection with the arrest of a teen later issued a disorderly conduct citation. The teen said Parham used a stun gun on him while he was handcuffed and shackled.

Prosecutors said Parham then joked about the incident in a text message to a fellow officer.

Parham says he plans to continue his law enforcement career and appeal his dismissal from the department.

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Teacher suffers burns in science class

DERRY — Students were evacuated from a western Pennsylvania high school after a science teacher was hurt by a chemical reaction during class.

Officials with the Derry Area School District say the incident happened late Wednesday morning in a chemistry lab at the school, about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh.

The teacher was taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment of burns to his face and neck. The school hasn't released details of his condition but the man's father tells local media that his son is "doing well."

One student also suffered minor burns but was released to his parents, while another was injured when she fell while leaving the scene.

Authorities say they're still investigating what went wrong with the experiment.