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.

Text Only
Local News
  • 15-year-old legal battle returning to county court

    State Supreme Court has let stand a Superior Court decision sending a landmark medical malpractice case back to Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

    April 16, 2014

  • Southwest mulls how to adopt study points

    Even though some members of the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department had little respect for a study of the department completed by a consultant, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. pledged to implement as many of the study’s recommendations as he could.

    April 16, 2014

  • Beader plans to resign, just not yet

    Democratic Mercer County Commissioner Brian Beader acknowledges that he intends to resign, but said nothing will happen until after he meets privately with the county’s judges next Thursday.

    April 16, 2014

  • Wildlife fund for park Aiding Buhl Farm animals

    Some of Steven Jubelirer’s fondest memories of his mother, Natalie, was when they would walk together in Buhl Farm park, Hermitage.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • News briefs from April 15, 2014

    Man charged with attack on his wife in Walmart

    Woman arrested for stabbing man with knife

    3 injured in pickup-motorcycle crash

    April 15, 2014

  • Judge orders Marin removed from ballot

    Saying the testimony of Congressional candidate Mel Marin of Sharon wasn’t credible, the Commonwealth Court has ordered Marin’s name removed from the Democratic Party’s ballot for one of area’s congressional seats in the May primary because Marin now has less than the required 1,000 valid signatures.

    April 15, 2014

  • Fire ruled accident, but cause unknown

    The fire in Greenville-Reynolds Industrial Park was most likely started by workers who were gutting the building, according to a deputy fire marshal.

    April 15, 2014

  • Mertz Tower fire Mertz tenant charged with arson

    A tenant who was being evicted from her apartment because of bizarre behavior is accused of setting her sofa ablaze at Wade D. Mertz Towers in Sharpsville.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tickled reflexology and pedicure salon Crafting a new downtown

    We’ll know better five years from now what lasting impact public interest in the arts and boutique shopping had in efforts to revitalize downtown Sharon with small businesses.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Have van, need drivers to serve elderly

    April 14, 2014

  • Jim Raykie column photo Technology aside, constant has been serving community

    Wow ... I was thinking about The Herald’s 150th birthday during the weekend, and realized that I’m getting old – I’ve been here for more than a quarter of that century and a half.





    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Herald, 1941 Herald marks 150th year

    The Herald today, April 14, celebrates 150 years of serving area readers and advertisers.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

  • Attorneys preparing work for murder trial

    Emerging from his chambers after about two hours of meeting with attorneys in Ralph L. Young’s murder case, Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John thanked spectators for their patience in waiting for the public portion of the hearing.

    April 13, 2014

  • Funds tapped for child advocacy centers

    Rooms fashioned to give child abuse victims a non-threatening place to tell their stories now have steady funding, at the suggestion of a task force created in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

    April 13, 2014

  • $35M upgrade planned for tube plant

    Wheatland Tube Co.’s Council Avenue plant in Wheatland is going to get a $35 million upgrade, the company announced Saturday morning.

    April 13, 2014