The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

September 10, 2013

Jury may be seated in 2 to 3 days

FARRELL — Jury selection began Monday and is expected to continue today in the trial of one of two Farrell men accused of the Dec. 30, 2011, killing of Farrell bar-owner William Basilone Jr.

Expect it to take two to three days for the jury to be seated, Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John told the 72 prospective jurors who filled his courtroom.

“You need to be brutally honest in this whole process,” St. John told them.

They watched a short video extolling the American jury system before the session started, and St. John reiterated the importance of jury service.

“The goal here is for you and I to be fair and impartial,” St. John said, to give both sides the fairest trial possible.

That said, St. John outlined the bare basics of the case:

Stewart, 20, of Farrell, is charged with first- and second-degree murder and two counts each of robbery and conspiracy. He is represented by public defenders James Goodwin Jr. and Autumn Johnson.

Stewart is alleged to be the man who shot Basilone five times that night.

He is being tried separately from Devine Campbell, 19, who faces the same charges and will be tried later.

Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems is being assisted by Lauren Hackett in prosecuting the case.

A part of Monday’s session focused on whether jurors had any connections to the accused, the lawyers representing Stewart or the prosecution.

A handful of jurors spoke privately with the judge and lawyers to explain those connections.

The pool will ultimately be winnowed to a jury of 12, plus two alternates who will decide Stewart’s fate.

The trial will take three to five days, and when deliberations are factored in, St. John advised the jurors who make the cut to expect to be occupied for about two weeks.

During that time, they shouldn’t discuss the case, read newspapers, or do any research about the case, the judge said.

“Your verdict will be based solely on what you hear in this courtroom,” the judge said.

The trial comes about one year and eight months since Basilone was gunned down outside his namesake bar.

Court delays have been common because of a changing cast of attorneys representing Stewart and Campbell and arguments by the defense and prosecution about what will be presented at trial.

Both men have been in Mercer County Jail since Jan. 2, 2012.

There have been several plea deals that fell apart at the last minute since they’ve been jailed, plus trials for other cases involving the pair.

Authorities allege Stewart and Campbell went on a crime spree in the last month of 2011.

The evidence gathered during those other, unrelated crimes won’t be allowed in the murder trials, at least in the way prosecutors have presented it thus far to St. John.

Authorities contend Stewart and Campbell committed four armed robberies in Farrell and two robberies in Sharon between Nov. 29 and Dec. 30, 2011.

Both also may or may not be subject of a federal probe into the gun violence in the Shenango Valley around that time. Kochems has said that probe may yield results this month.

Federal authorities don’t comment on pending investigations, but Kochems brought up the probe when he sought a continuance in one of the robbery cases against Campbell.

The cases are anything but clear and talking about them during the trials involving Basilone’s killing would “muddy the waters,” said Campbell’s attorney J. Jarrett K. Whalen.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 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

  • Soap box derby finds new home

    The Greater Pennsylvania Super Kids soap box derby for special-needs kids is moving to Sharpsville.

    April 19, 2014

  • News briefs from April 18, 2014

    ‘Nonspecific threat’ prompts evacuation

    Supreme Court refuses to hear couple’s appeal

    Lung Association offering free radon test kits

    April 18, 2014

  • Man admits to choking; rape case is dropped

    A Greenville man on Thursday pleaded down a rape case to simple assault and continued to deny that he committed any sexual crimes.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge issues tabletop ads injunction against couple

    A judge recently handed down an injunction prohibiting a Sharon man, his wife and two companies associated with the wife from working in the tabletop advertising business within 100 miles of Sharon.

    April 18, 2014

  • Tech waste eyed for new contact

    The current Hermitage solid waste contract was designed to increase recycling while reducing the amount of garbage placed at the curb, and it has lived up to its promise.

    April 18, 2014

  • WaterFire Rekindled

    WaterFire Sharon has chosen themes for its festivals to be held on three Saturdays in downtown Sharon. “Elements” will be the theme July 19, “Origins” for Aug. 23 and “Motion” for the Sept. 27 celebration.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from April 17, 2014

    Man arrested for running from accident scene

    UPMC, Southwest eyeing security at hospital

    Crashes cause diversion of Interstate 80 traffic

    Court supports prison term in chase case

    Woman gets 5-10 years in crash that killed officer

    April 17, 2014

  • Officials pledge support to sewer project

    Publicly declaring their intention to donate county land to the Upper Neshannock Watershed Authority, Commissioners Matt McConnell and John Lechner said there’s no need for Commissioner Brian Beader to worry about the loss of the sewer project at the Interstate 80/Route 19 interchange.

    April 17, 2014

  • Griswold Avenue fire Neighbors tried to save victim

    As flames and thick smoke poured out of a Sharon house Tuesday evening, neighbors rallied to try and save the man who lived there alone.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Woman nabbed, sister sought in assault

    Southwest Mercer County Regional police have arrested a Hermitage woman for breaking into a home in Farrell and beating a woman and are seeking the alleged assailant’s sister.

    April 16, 2014

  • Despite good deeds, man going back to prison

    Linda K. Kretzer had nothing but praise for Raymond C. McKelvey.

    April 16, 2014

  • 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