The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

May 14, 2013

Basilone murder trial start is delayed until summer

FARRELL — One of the teens accused of killing popular Farrell bar owner William Basilone Jr. will be a twentysomething if there are any more delays in the proceeding against him.

Basilone was shot to death Dec. 30, 2011, outside his eponymous Farrell bar on Roemer Boulevard.

Four days after the killing, police charged Joshua Stewart, who will turn 20 Aug. 15, and Devine Campbell, who turns 19 on Aug. 24.

Both men lived in Farrell and have been in jail since January 2012. They're facing charges in four cases that are being prosecuted separately but are part of a series of robberies in the waning days of 2011.

The legal machinations of prosecuting those cases have spun a tangled web because of a changing cast of lawyers and prosecutors assigned to the case.

On Monday, Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John spent more than two hours trying to sort it out so the men can be tried for the crimes they're accused of committing.

While the lawyers and the judge powwowed in private, Stewart sat in the jury box of the courtroom and talked with two women who came to watch the proceedings while Campbell stared ahead most of the time, seemingly pondering the portrait of justice that looms above St. John's bench.

"We had this thing all cranked up to go tomorrow," St. John said before approving continuing the case to the July trial term.

"I'm really reluctant to continue the case, but I think we have to continue the case," he said.

Several issues were raised during the hearing Monday, which was held as jury selection for both men's murder trials were set to start Tuesday.

Stewart is charged with first- and second-degree murder and is the alleged gunman who authorities say shot the 58-year-old Basilone at least five times. Prosecutors say Campbell was with Stewart at the time and conspired with him to commit the crime.

Both men also face two counts each of robbery and conspiracy in the case, although Basilone wasn't robbed during the shooting and had $440 in cash, credit cards and a gold ring on him when he was killed.

A third teen, Tylor Kalenic, formerly of Farrell, has cooperated with prosecutors and hasn't been charged.

James Goodwin, who is the latest lawyer appointed by the court to represent Stewart, has asked that Kalenic's DNA be compared against a sample on a hoodie that's part of the evidence in the case.

Waiting for those results is the main reason for the delay in the trials, which also allows for lawyers for both sides to file further court motions to fine-tune their cases.

District Attorney Robert G. Kochems wanted St. John to order defense lawyers to turn over letters that may or may not exist that could add a wrinkle to the trial if they're used as a gambit by the defense.

These letters have been alluded to by prosecution witness Cedric Boyd.

He is serving a sentence in Mercer County Jail on unrelated sexual abuse charges and has been working as what St. John has previously described as a "listening post" for the government.

The content of the alleged letters wasn't explicitly detailed during the hearing, but Kochems said they could be damaging to his case.

Goodwin and J. Jarrett K. Whalen, Campbell's attorney, deny their existence.

Depending on their content, if a letter or other evidence exists that questions the involvement of any of the participants in the case, it puts prosecutors in an "awkward" position, St. John said.

"I appreciate that," the judge said. "That's a horrible position to be in."

But he denied the motion.

The cases are slated to be on the July trial list. None of the lawyers involved offered comments after the hearing and both men were returned to jail.

 

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