The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

September 14, 2013

Witness: Stewart shot Basilone

Testifies of pair’s plan to rob bar

FARRELL — Joshua Stewart and Devine Campbell talked about “hitting a lick” before Farrell bar owner William Basilone Jr. was shot and killed Dec. 30, 2011, one of the witnesses called by the prosecution testified Friday during the second day of testimony in Stewart’s murder trial.

Stewart was 19 when the crime occurred and lived just a few blocks west up Roemer Boulevard from the family-oriented restaurant and bar.

Now 20, Stewart faces charges of first-, second- and third-degree murder and two counts each of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery for the crime. Campbell, 19, also of Farrell, faces the same charges as Stewart and will be tried separately.

The trial is being heard in Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John’s court. Several of Basilone’s family members, along with friends and family of some of the witnesses testifying and at least one curious bystander made up the gallery in the courtroom.

Stewart wore a deep red long-sleeved, open-collared shirt Friday, as he was pointed out by several witnesses as being the man police suspect of being the gunman in the slaying.

Basilone was 58 when he was shot in the back that night after he went outside to check on something at his Roemer Boulevard bar.

Former Farrell resident Tylor Kalenic was 15 that night.

Now 17, Kalenic testified Friday in exchange for a deal that grants him immunity in the case.

In short answers, Kalenic confirmed that Stewart, whom he called by the street name “Knox,” showed him a “deuce-deuce” handgun, a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol, at Stewart’s apartment earlier that day.

After that, Kalenic, who was next hanging out with Campbell’s brother “Dre,” went to “Puff’s house” on Federal Street, he said.

“Puff” is Dominic Grannison, and it was outside “Puff’s” house that Kalenic encountered Stewart and Campbell – called “Knox” and “Louie” respectively by Kalenic – that night.

The older teens asked Kalenic if he wanted to “do a lick” that night, Kalenic said. That’s street slang for committing a robbery.

The trio then proceeded to the Roemer Boulevard area around Basilone’s. Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems again played surveillance camera footage captured from Basilone’s.

“That’s us,” Kalenic said as three figures, two wearing hoodies and Kalenic wearing a camouflage jacket and “skully” knit hat, came into the picture. The jacket was a Christmas present from his father, Kalenic said.

Kalenic had no trouble converting the 24-hour time signature displayed on the video to regular time as Kochems asked him to confirm the time stamps on the footage.

Kalenic confirmed that he, Stewart and Campbell encountered Tyree Sanders at one point while walking on the street.

Sanders also testified Friday and he fingered Stewart, Campbell and Kalenic as being in the area that night before Kalenic took the stand.

Stewart, Campbell and Kalenic talked in the dark corner of an alley across the street from Basilone’s. At one point Stewart went in the bar to scope it out and at another point Kalenic did the same.

Kalenic watched as video footage from inside the bar that night showed him fumbling in his pockets.

He went in under the guise of ordering a pizza, but was actually there to see how many people were in the bar, he said Friday.

But he ultimately decided not to take part in the crime, he testified.

“I wasn’t feeling it,” Kalenic said. “I wanted to go home.”

He left the others and walked the short distance to his home on Hamilton Avenue, where he left the front door unlocked for Stewart and Campbell, he said.

He watched from the kitchen window of the two-story home, and said he saw Stewart shoot Basilone.

He “saw Josh” walk along the side of Basilone’s building by the alley “and Basilone came out and they met face-to-face,” Kalenic said.

“He was smoking a cigarette,” Kalenic said of Basilone, although he admitted he didn’t know exactly who the man was until the story of the crime played out.

“He starts shooting him,” Kalenic said, referring to Stewart shooting Basilone.

“He (Basilone) fell and he (Stewart) kept shooting him (Basilone),” Kalenic said.

“Then he and Devine ran to my house,” Kalenic said.

Kalenic went upstairs and checked on his younger siblings before Stewart and Campbell arrived at the house, he said.

Stewart immediately went to the basement, where he may have ditched the gun, then stashed the hoodie behind Kalenic’s dresser, Kalenic said.

The gun has yet to be recovered as evidence in the case.

James Goodwin, who is defending Stewart in the case, didn’t buy Kalenic’s account.

Goodwin first asked Kalenic if he’d been completely truthful, then caught the young man in a series of lies, some of which may have happened under oath.

“I haven’t lied about this case,” Kalenic said several times.

But Goodwin asked Kalenic about earlier testimony at a preliminary hearing in the case when Kalenic’s story was different.

He also asked why that testimony and the story he gave Friday didn’t match the statement he initially gave to police.

“Which time? Which story?” Goodwin asked rhetorically.

Kalenic initially told police he’d been with Stewart and Campbell, but that when he found out they were planning a robbery he went home.

Under Goodwin’s grilling Friday, Kalenic affirmed a different version of events.

“Whenever he (Stewart) said, ‘Want to go hit this lick with me, young buck?,’ I said yes,” Kalenic said.

“You never told police you agreed to be part of the robbery,” Goodwin told Kalenic.

“Mr. Kalenic, these are the police notes,” Goodwin said, referring to the papers he was holding. “You just made this stuff (his prior testimony Friday) up today.”

“Explain what happened,” Goodwin said.

Kalenic initially said he didn’t know Stewart and Campbell by name.

“Then you indicated you knew their names?” Goodwin asked.

“I was scared at the time,” Kalenic said. “I was 15 at the time.”

Goodwin again called Kalenic a liar and told the teen he had lied under oath.

“You have all the reasons to lie,” Goodwin told Kalenic.

“After a while, I started telling the truth,” Kalenic said after Goodwin went through “some more of these lies.”

“I didn’t lie today. I didn’t lie,” Kalenic said. “It was like two years ago.”

“So if you tell a lie, it’s OK if you don’t remember,” Goodwin said.

After Stewart and Campbell arrived at Kalenic’s Hamilton Avenue home, where the adults were apparently not at home that night, they were picked up by Cierra Vincent, now 21, and her now-17-year-old sister Olivia, Cierra Vincent said when she was called to the stand after Kalenic.

The Vincents live in Greenville.

The girls knew the boys, she said, and had been trying to hang out with them all night.

They’d exchanged several phone calls, from Cierra Vincent’s to Stewart’s cell phones, as confirmed by Vincent when she testified.

“My sister (Olivia) wanted to hang out with Devine,” she said. “I don’t really know what we were going to do.”

“They had something to do before meeting up,” Vincent said.

She drove around the Shenango Valley that night, going to Sharon to pick up her paycheck at Quaker Steak & Lube, then driving to the Farrell Speed Check for cigarettes.

She went to “Puff’s” on Federal Street after that, gave him a smoke, then went back to the Speed Check for unspecified reasons.

All the while, she and Campbell talked briefly from time to time, using Stewart’s phone.

Between 10:40 and 11:30 the brief conversations affirmed the boys “weren’t finished” with their task for the night, and then at 11:39 p.m., Campbell called and asked her to pick them up at Kalenic’s, she said.

Police were dispatched at 11:37 p.m. to Basilone’s for the shooting, Southwest Mercer County Regional policeman David E. McMinn said Friday.

Cierra Vincent picked up the boys and had to detour around the police responding to the shooting, she said.

She dropped Stewart and Campbell off at Stewart’s, just up Roemer Boulevard from the bar, and she dropped Kalenic off at a house in Sharon, she said.

They headed back to Greenville, but turned around at 12:13 a.m., Vincent said.

She did so because Olivia Vincent wanted to give Campbell a hug, she testified previously at the initial preliminary hearing in the case.

Both girls are now mothers, Cierra Vincent confirmed under questioning by assistant district attorney Lauren Hackett that was initially halted by a “side bar” session with St. John, Kochems and defense lawyers.

Such sessions are called to clarify matters privately before they’re trotted out in open court before the jury.

The babies are each seven months old and were conceived after Dec. 30, Vincent confirmed under questioning by Hackett.

The father of Cierra Vincent’s child is Stewart’s brother Eric and the father of Olivia Vincent’s child is “Drey” Campbell, Devine Campbell’s brother.

Testimony concluded Friday afternoon with more from police, as McMinn and Sgt. Andre Thomas, who also works at Southwest and is the lead detective on the case, described the scene of the crime and a ballistics report from the state police crime lab was entered as evidence.

The third day of testimony for the prosecution is expected to resume Monday morning.

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