The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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May 3, 2013

Witness wavers, charges held for court

HERMITAGE — A witness who had told police the identities of two men involved in a shooting in Hermitage wasn’t so sure Thursday who was involved.

Prosecutors were able to use the man’s earlier identification of Daniel L. Odem Jr. to get a litany of charges held for court.

District Judge Ronald E. Antos, Farrell, dismissed a number of charges related to an assault that occurred right before the shooting.

“There is no positive ID,” Antos said of allegations that Odem, 21, of 1126 Washington Ave., Farrell, assaulted a man before he and Terran D. Page-Hughes, 24, of 360 Orange Drive, Hermitage, allegedly fired on Floyd Royal Jr. and Teddy “Chris” Greer.

Royal testified that he was walking at about 3:20 a.m. March 30 from his vehicle to his girlfriend’s apartment in the 1400 block of Parke Drive, when three men approached him and asked him who he was.

Royal replied, “Don’t worry about it” and the men jawed back and forth until a man in a black hoodie pulled out a gun and hit Royal in the back of the head with it. The other assailant, in a gray hoodie, punched him in the mouth, Royal said.

Royal was ready to fight but didn’t want to do it alone, so he went inside and recruited a buddy, Greer. The men in the hoodies ended up pulling out revolvers and firing, one of the bullets running through Greer’s right arm.

Royal and Greer both testified they did not know their attackers and cannot identify them. Royal had told police Odem could have been one of the shooters.

Another resident of the apartment complex, whose identity is being withheld at the request of police and prosecutors, named Odem and Page-Hughes as the shooters, police said.

However, the resident, who opened his testimony by saying he did not want his name in the paper, claimed he couldn’t see much.

“It was very dark, pitch black,” he said of the area where the shooting occurred. “It’s like a black hole.”

He further testified that he saw one shooter from behind and the other from the side, and that his concern when the bullets flew was for his daughter, whom he placed in a closet.

When asked by Assistant Mercer County District Attorney William J. Moder III if Odem was one of the shooters, the witness said, “Not sure. It could have been.”

“It could have very well been anybody,” he said at another point.

The witness complained about “redundant questions” and having to relive the night over and over again.

“This is so hard,” he said.

Hermitage police detective Joel Ristvey testified that he gave the witness eight photographs, asked the witness to look at them and see if any of the shooters were pictured. He told the witness not to choose anyone if he wasn’t sure.

The witness picked Odem’s picture, Ristvey said.

Defense attorney Stanley T. Booker asked that the charges related to the shooting be dismissed. “There hasn’t been identification,” he said.

He noted Greer and Royal had the best perspectives and couldn’t identify anyone, and the witness did not have a good view.

“I know I’m asking a lot,” he said of a district judge dismissing charges in a case of this severity, but he said the back-door identification was not “substantive evidence.”

Moder countered that the totality of the evidence indicates a crime occurred and Odem might have been involved. Royal testified the men who assaulted him were the same ones who fired at him and Greer, and the witness told police the identity of the shooters, Moder said.

Antos dismissed charges of aggravated and simple assault and conspiracy to commit aggravated and simple assault for the allegations that Odem was involved in the earlier assault on Royal.

He also dismissed a charge of a general count of attempted homicide and attempted third-degree murder based on case law that someone can only attempt to commit first-degree murder. Moder said both dismissals were proper.

Antos held for court charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

Odem was returned to Mercer County Jail after failing to post $150,000 bond.

On March 23, District Judge Lorinda L. Hinch, Mercer, held for court the same charges, with the addition of simple assault and conspiracy to commit simple assault, that had been filed against Page-Hughes. He is in jail, held on $250,000 bond.

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