The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

April 29, 2014

3rd suspect nabbed in Walko slaying

FARRELL — The manhunt for a third suspect accused of gunning down a Farrell native ended when police found him hiding under a kitchen sink.

Zachariah Ryan Owens, 28, of 754 N. Sharpsville Ave., Sharon, who managed to fly under police radar since April 8, was arrested shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday at 106 Wallis Ave., Farrell.

Police said Owens played a part in a late night May 13 robbery that resulted in the death of bystander Andrew T. Walko, 44, of Emerson Avenue, who was walking his dogs at the time.

Owens was taken to Mercer County Jail after he was denied bail on a laundry list of charges including second degree murder.

Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems said the preliminary hearing for Owens and his alleged co-conspirator, Shawn Edward Lee, 28, of Masury, will be heard together after May 6 in Mercer County Court of Common Pleas.

Owens and Lee are both charged with Walko’s murder, as well as robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, aggravated assault, carrying a firearm without a license, making terroristic threats and unlawful restraint.

Miguel Julians Huey, 27, of Hermitage, originally charged with the slaying, testified to Owens’ and Lee’s  involvement in the crimes.

Huey said he went with Owens and Lee to the Emerson Avenue home of Walko’s stepson, Nicholas Verrill, intent on robbing Verrill.

Huey said he ran as Lee and Owens charged the house wearing masks and carrying guns.

Later that night, Huey said, Lee said that he’d shot someone, and Huey should keep his mouth shut.

Lee also allegedly told Huey that Verrill’s brother interrupted the robbery, prompting Lee to shoot at him, but Walko, who was standing on the sidewalk in front of his stepson’s house, took the bullet instead.

In exchange for his testimony against Lee and Owens at the upcoming hearing, Huey will face a state prison sentence of 1 to 3 years for his April 7 guilty plea to conspiracy to commit robbery.

On April 8, Lee was served a warrant in Mercer County Jail, where he has been since June for allegedly robbing a Hermitage woman.

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