The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

October 6, 2013

Accused killer wants case dismissed

FRENCH CREEK TOWNSHIP — The attorney for a man charged with killing his brother-in-law in French Creek Township has filed a motion asking that the charges be dismissed.

Ralph L. Young, 45, of Franklin, is in Mercer County Jail on charges of first- and third-degree murder, arson and abuse of a corpse for allegedly shooting David A. Dignall, 58, of French Creek, pouring a flammable liquid on him and setting the body and Dignall’s van on fire Dec. 20 on Hollobaugh Road.

The charges were held for court at a preliminary hearing in May.

Prosecutors allege the killing was the result of a dispute over the fate of Young’s mother’s 35-acre property near Franklin. Dignall and his wife, Alice, Young’s sister, bought the property and were charging Young rent. Young, who wanted to start some kind of ministry on the property, had been living there rent-free.

Young’s attorney, Alexander H. Lindsay Jr., filed a writ of habeas corpus to challenge the continued jailing of Young.

“The facts alleged against Young are insufficient to establish the finding of a prima facie case and accordingly the charge filed against (Young) must be dismissed,” Lindsay said.

A prima facie case means prosecutors can show that a crime occurred and the accused might have been involved.

Lindsay argued that the only evidence linking Young to “the events surrounding the demise of his brother-in-law ... is DNA evidence on a jug handle found in the victim’s van.”

State police trooper Teddy Geibel testified in May a report from the state police crime lab indicated Young’s DNA “was found on the handle of the clear milk jug, along with two other profiles.”

Investigators were unable to identify the other profiles, Geibel said.

Young voluntarily gave police a DNA sample for comparison.

Lindsay had alleged the DNA evidence was faulty at the preliminary hearing, but District Judge D. Neil McEwen, Pine Township, said the DNA evidence supports other circumstantial evidence, which includes Young’s admission that he had been in the Hollobaugh area to try to find his brother to ask him about brake pads, and a witness description of a man standing in the rain at Hollobaugh and Cochranton roads wearing clothes that Young was seen wearing that day as Dignall’s van drove by.

Police found two milk jugs inside the burned-out van, one containing home heating oil and the other red-dyed diesel fuel. Young’s DNA was found on the jug containing fuel, police said.

Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John has set a hearing on the writ for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 6. St. John had set an earlier date, but Lindsay asked for a delay because of his heavy case load.

Lindsay noted in his motion that, while the hearing will be similar to that of a preliminary hearing, the District Attorney’s office will not be limited to the evidence that was presented at the preliminary hearing. Prosecutors can present additional evidence if they choose.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Community thanks its first-responders

    Sharpsville honored its emergency responders Sunday at an event that included Mertz Towers residents as special guests.

    July 28, 2014

  • Drilling boom challenges state inspectors

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 28, 2014

  • Kidds Mill Covered Bridge A span of time

    Four generations of the Cadman family have enjoyed the Kidds Mill Covered Bridge, which is in Pymatuning Township near where the family’s ancestral farm is located.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Intruder hurts woman, takes $5

    A home invasion in Hermitage Friday night sent an elderly woman to the hospital and netted the robber $5.

    July 27, 2014

  • national night out March against crime set for Aug. 5

    At the last Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission meeting, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. presented the number of incidents for each of the four communities in May.

    Farrell topped out at 819.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • high street trail Peaceful pathways

    History buffs and picnickers in the Shenango Valley won’t have to drive to Sharpsville to hang out at the old Erie Canal extension lock. They’ll soon have the option to walk or roll in on bicycles and even powered chairs to visit Canal Park near the outflow of Shenango Dam.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • balloonquest1 Balloon Quest celebrates 25 years

    Today is the final day of the 25th annual Western Pennsylvania Balloon Quest at Scotland Meadows Park.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from July 26, 2014

    Man faces bomb threat charges

    June building tops $4 million in Hermitage

    July 26, 2014

  • Elderly man survives plane crash

    An elderly man survived wrecking his plane into a bank, then landing into a wetland, about 200 feet south of Runway 28 at Grove City Regional Airport in Springfield Township on Friday.

    July 26, 2014

  • Dontae Rashad Pinkins Man arrested for April gunfight

    Federal marshals and local police arrested Dontae Rashad Pinkins Thursday on a warrant accusing him of involvement in an April gunfight with another man in a Sharon alley.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearing changed in starving case

    The time and place for the preliminary hearing of a Greenville mom accused of starving and beating her 7-year-old young son has been changed.

    July 26, 2014

  • Schell working on mural Drawn to Mexico

    Jason Schell probably is not exaggerating when he says that millions of people have seen his art.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Farrell man, 24, arrested on warrant in connection with April shooting

    Federal marshals and local police arrested Dontae Rashad Pinkins Thursday on a warrant accusing him of involvement in an April shootout in Sharon.


    Pinkins, 24, of Farrell, is in Mercer County Jail after failing to post bond on gun charges.

    Additional details to follow.
     

    July 25, 2014

  • Firm will study timing of traffic signals

    Hermitage commissioners on Wednesday hired Whitman, Requardt and Associates LLP to study the timing scheme of traffic signals along parts of Hermitage Road and East State Street.

    July 25, 2014

  • 3 area fire depts. awarded grants

    Three area fire departments will share in more than $590,000 in grants meant to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities guard against the threat of fires in forests and other undeveloped areas, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti announced.

    July 25, 2014