The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

November 16, 2013

Stewart won’t testify

Basilone shooter opts out of Campbell trial

MERCER — But that proved to be wishful thinking on the part of Campbell’s defense team, as convicted killer Joshua Stewart heeded his lawyers’ advice and declined to testify because of the effect it would have on any appeals or pending charges in the cases against him.

“There’re a lot of reasons for you not to testify,” Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John told Stewart, 20, formerly of Farrell.

Stewart was convicted in September of first degree murder and two counts each of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery for the Dec. 30, 2011, slaying of Farrell bar owner William Basilone.

Stewart shot Basilone five times near an alley at the corner of Roemer Boulevard outside his bar in a botched robbery attempt. Campbell is accused of being Stewart’s wing man.

Basilone was killed in an attempted robbery, authorities contend, although he had cash and jewelry on him when he was killed that wasn’t taken.

The Pennsylvania Crimes Code doesn’t include an “attempted robbery” charge.

Stewart was the man who shot Basilone, while Campbell stood in the alley, prosecutors said during Stewart’s trial.

He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder, plus more time for the robberies and a conviction on other crimes that happened in the waning weeks of 2011.

The 19-year-old Campbell is on trial facing charges of second-degree murder and two counts each of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

The proceedings were set to begin Friday morning, but a lengthy session in St. John’s chambers with Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems and Campbell’s court-appointed defense team of J. Jarrett K. Whalen and Dustin Cole spawned a delay in the start until Monday.

St. John convened the private powwow to talk about one of the men on Campbell’s potential witness list, namely Stewart.

St. John summoned Stewart to the courthouse Friday to determine if the convicted killer understood the impact of his testimony.

“Did you discuss the pros and cons if you were to testify?” St. John asked Stewart, who is represented in the case by James Goodwin and Autumn Johnson, who were also called to court.

After a brief talk with his lawyers, Stewart said he’d like to “exercise my right to remain silent.”

It means loss of a “star witness” in Campbell’s defense, Whalen said after the hearing with Stewart adjourned.

It also means that Stewart won’t be sharing a sworn soliloquy about what happened that night, nor will he be subjected to cross-examinations by Kochems that could cause any legal defense of his actions irreparable harm.

Stewart is also under federal indictment for gun crimes that happened during the same alleged spree of robberies he and Campbell are implicated in during the waning weeks of 2011.

He was stricken from Campbell’s witness list and taken back to Allegheny County, where he is being held on the federal charges.

Campbell wasn’t present for the hearing; nor was the jury of six men and six women, along with three female alternates and one male alternate.

Jurors spent the morning in the jury room, presumably getting to know one another for about four hours before being dismissed after lunch.

The jury will be sworn Monday and then opening statements will be made before the prosecution begins its portion of the case.

If convicted, Campbell faces a mandatory minimum of 30 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole on the murder charge.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Prison term upheld for sex offender

    A sex offender challenging a 4- to 8-year prison sentence for a probation violation lost an appeal of that sentence.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man, 24, must register as sex offender for life

    The Ohio man who exposed himself to Sharon girls on their way to school last fall must register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life when he gets out of jail.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man deemed predator – for now

    A former Sharon man was sent to the state prison system Tuesday for corrupting the morals of a teenage girl, but the question of whether his penalties under Megan’s Law will stand could be subject to future legal proceedings.

    April 23, 2014

  • Not even waste will be wasted

    Tom Darby admits he wishes the startup of the anaerobic digestion process at the Hermitage Water Pollution Control Plant had moved along much faster.

    April 23, 2014

  • 3rd Earth Fest draws families to Penn State

    Penn State Shenango’s Earth Fest has become a spring tradition for area residents.
    Families poured into downtown Sharon for the campus’ third annual sustainability celebration.

    April 22, 2014

  • Amish clean Shenango River Volunteers protect Shenango River

    Shenango River Watchers has spent more than a decade working to clean up the Shenango and improve recreational access to its water and banks.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • For many, recycling’s become way of life

    When Pennsylvania mandated curbside recycling for its larger municipalities in 1998 – those with more than 5,000 people – there was grumbling about government interference in the lives of everyday people.

    April 22, 2014

  • Many items can’t be thrown away

    The computer screen in front of you isn’t likely to do you much harm, at least not until it’s tossed in a landfill where the lead-filled components start to leak and eventually find their way into your drinking water, according to Jerry Zona, director of the Lawrence-Mercer County Recycling/Solid Waste department.

    April 22, 2014

  • David Sykes' solar panels Earthworks

    While touring Germany last year, David Sykes spotted solar panels resting in a residential back yard.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Burned using Icy Hot, woman claims

    A Grove City woman has sued Chattem Inc. and Rite Aid of Pennsylvania Inc., alleging she suffered a second-degree chemical burn using one of Chattem’s Icy Hot pain relief products.

    April 21, 2014

  • Family outing Family friendly

    “We’re No. 5’’ isn’t a sports cheer you’ll hear any time soon.
    But considering the lumps the greater area has gotten over the years on economic rankings, it’s an outright victory.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • To demolish or not Tear it down? Fix it up?

    In 2007, Richard D. Givens bought a home at 831 Knobwood Drive in Hermitage for $245,000.
    Today, the city of Hermitage is seeking the demolition of the now-vacant house, arguing the damage from water infiltration makes the structure not worth saving.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from April 19, 2014

    April 19, 2014

  • Man admits having child porn

    A Mercer man accused of soliciting and downloading photographs of nude teenage girls pleaded guilty April 8 to sexual abuse of children for possessing child pornography.

    April 19, 2014

  • Police getting new tool to fight crime

    Sharon police working at crime scenes will be putting a powerful new investigative tool to work as soon as next month.

    April 19, 2014