The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

May 22, 2013

Accused gunman guilty of armed robbery

SHARON — The man accused of shooting William Basilone Jr. to death outside his Farrell bar was convicted Tuesday of robbing a Sharon man at gunpoint outside his home the night before the killing.

The eight-woman, four-man jury found Joshua Lee Stewart, 19, guilty of two counts of robbery and a charge of making terroristic threats.

They deliberated more than three hours and were able to use two juvenile “adjudicated delinquent” cases against Stewart to weigh whether he was a credible witness in Tuesday’s trial. In those incidents from 2008 and 2011 he was charged with “crimes of falsehood.”

Stewart testified he wasn’t the man who robbed Joe Moss at gunpoint shortly after 6 p.m. Dec. 29.

“No, I did not,” Stewart said when his attorney James Goodwin asked him if he did it. “I don’t recall exactly where I was. I know for a fact that I did not rob Joe Moss. I never seen him before in my life.”

That day, “wasn’t a very eventful day for me. I don’t really recall what I did, what I ate.”

The jury believed otherwise, accepting Moss’ testimony about what happened that cold winter night.

Moss, who works at Sharon High school, was tired that evening. He’d been working with some of his athletes -- he coaches track and cross country for the Tigers -- and “once I finish, I generally kick back,” he said.

“I kick my shoes off and usually I’m home for the night,” he said.

That night his wife asked him to bring something to her at her day-care center a block and a half away.

He grudgingly acquiesced, but left the television on and his cell phone in the house as he went outside, he testified.

“It was cold,” he said. “When I came out of the house I saw a gentleman walking south on the opposite side of South Oakland.”

He didn’t know the man, although he said he knows most of the “kids” in the neighborhood.

The man, a younger black male, was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt.

“He did about his business, I’m about mine,” Moss said, noting that he didn’t greet him with the usual “How you guys doing? Don’t get in no trouble,” banter he tells the kids he knows at school and in the neighborhood.

He got in his car, which was parked on the curb of King Street outside his house, and reached to buckle his seatbelt when he looked up.

“And ohh, I thought it was a prank,” Moss told the jury.

“Less than a meter away,” a gun was pointed at his head and chest, he said.

“It startled me for a second,” he said. “That’s never happened. And I kind of looked at the guy.”

The man demanded cash, which Moss initially said he didn’t have. The man ordered him out of the car and he was standing so close he had to back up so Moss could exit the vehicle, Moss said.

“I got out of the car and he says, ‘I know you got money,’ ” Moss said. “The biggest thing going in my mind is I don’t want to get shot. I thought he was going to shoot me.”

Moss handed over $36 and the man walked south toward Farrell, he said.

He drove to his wife’s day-care center and she called 911 and Moss made a police report.

A few days later, on Jan. 4, 2012, Moss said, he recognized Stewart in a picture published on the front page of The Herald.

“That’s a picture of the person that robbed me,” Moss said.

He also picked Stewart out of 16 pictures Sharon police showed him to try to identify the armed robber.

Stewart was charged Jan 23 with the crime.

Moss’ testimony, coupled with the account provided by Sharon police detective Sgt. Steve Ray, was enough to convict Stewart.

Goodwin tried to show that Moss gave inexact descriptions of Stewart. He also pointed to discrepancies in the police reports made in the case.

Goodwin never denied a crime occurred.

“The bottom line is Mr. Moss went through a very scary ordeal,” Goodwin said.

But Stewart wasn’t the man who did it, Goodwin argued.

The jury didn’t buy it and returned a verdict of guilty.

Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John set sentencing for Aug. 9.

It’s the latest trial in the cases against Stewart and Devine Campbell, 18, who are charged in the Basilone killing, along with several other robberies in the Shenango Valley that happened in December 2011.

Last week, a jury found Campbell not guilty of robbery in a similar but separate case from Stewart’s.

Today, Campbell goes on trial for theft charges in connection with his part in a jail house robbery.

The trial on the Basilone homicide charges is set for July.

Both men have been held in Mercer County Jail since Jan. 3, 2012, on the homicide charges.



Text Only
Local News
  • CIRT team in Jackson Center Man arrested after shooting standoff

    One Jackson Center man is recovering from a bullet wound, and the borough resident accused of shooting him sits in jail after a long night of drinking that state police say turned into a case of attempted homicide.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sharon Speedway location City on track for new Speedway store

    Speedway is lining up its administrative and bureaucratic cones on plans for the gas station and convenience store chain to zoom into downtown Sharon.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Guards, county OK deal

    County officials and guards at the Mercer County Jail have reached a tentative contract agreement that, if approved, halts the idea of privatizing operations at the facility.

    July 31, 2014

  • Doss: Public has right to know

    A major part of Farrell council’s work session Monday was spent deciding whether or not to inform the audience about an unofficial police proposal from the City of Sharon.

    July 30, 2014

  • Budget falling short despite tax hike

    Farrell residents may have seen an income tax increase this year, but the city isn’t seeing the extra dollars City Manager Michael Ceci budgeted for.

    July 30, 2014

  • oakwood graves 1 Resting together

    Visitors to Oakwood Cemetery would see many  familiar local names if they looked down the hillside to the left just inside the gate on Sharon’s North Oakland Avenue.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Police: Kids in car were OK

    The mother of two young children was drunk and passed out when police found them all in a car parked along a city street, Sharon police said.

    July 29, 2014

  • To talk – or not – about police

    The mysterious agenda item, “No. 10,” at Farrell’s council meeting Monday became the center of a heated workshop and business session.

    July 29, 2014

  • Community thanks its first-responders

    Sharpsville honored its emergency responders Sunday at an event that included Mertz Towers residents as special guests.

    July 28, 2014

  • Drilling boom challenges state inspectors

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 28, 2014

  • Kidds Mill Covered Bridge A span of time

    Four generations of the Cadman family have enjoyed the Kidds Mill Covered Bridge, which is in Pymatuning Township near where the family’s ancestral farm is located.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Intruder hurts woman, takes $5

    A home invasion in Hermitage Friday night sent an elderly woman to the hospital and netted the robber $5.

    July 27, 2014

  • national night out March against crime set for Aug. 5

    At the last Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission meeting, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. presented the number of incidents for each of the four communities in May.

    Farrell topped out at 819.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • high street trail Peaceful pathways

    History buffs and picnickers in the Shenango Valley won’t have to drive to Sharpsville to hang out at the old Erie Canal extension lock. They’ll soon have the option to walk or roll in on bicycles and even powered chairs to visit Canal Park near the outflow of Shenango Dam.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • balloonquest1 Balloon Quest celebrates 25 years

    Today is the final day of the 25th annual Western Pennsylvania Balloon Quest at Scotland Meadows Park.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo