The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


August 13, 2012

Judge rules: Shesko competent for trial

INDIANA — An Indiana County judge has found Armagh resident Stephen Shesko competent to stand trial for aggravated assault in connection with the Nov. 24, 2008, beating of a Belsano man.

President Judge William Martin decided Friday to allow the case to proceed to a Sept. 7 call of the criminal trial list. At that time, a trial date likely will be set if Shesko and the DA can’t agree on a plea deal.

Martin denied a motion by David Weaver, Shesko’s Johns­town attorney, to find Shesko incompetent to stand trial.

At an earlier hearing, Weaver offered evidence that Shesko is both mentally unable to assist in his own defense and physically unable to sit through an expected two- or three-day trial.

Martin also denied a motion by District Attorney Patrick Daugherty to order a 60-day inpatient examination of Shesko’s condition.

State police said Shesko, 64, began beating Erick D. Melius, 28, after Melius drove up to Shesko’s hunting party in Buffington Township and mocked Amish youngsters in the group.

Melius died two days later and Shesko was charged with homicide.

But that charge didn’t stand because Melius had checked himself out of the hospital against medical advice and the autopsy didn’t find definitively that the beating caused Melius’ death.

Weaver said Monday he was considering filing a pretrial appeal to Superior Court over Martin’s competency ruling. But he said a final decision has not been made.

“In this case, the 6th Amendment comes into play, and that issue needs to run its course,” Weaver said.


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