MERCER – Accused arson killer Brandon Gilchrist will face his next court date in July.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Acker said prosecutors don’t yet know when Gilchrist is due back in court, or what type of hearing will take place.
Gilchrist, 40, and Blaine Coleman, 65, are suspected of causing the death of 49-year-old Regina Norris, of 1141 Wallis Ave., Farrell, in a fire March 25, 2017, at her home.
Police said witnesses saw one of the men driving a silver sport-utility vehicle to buy $1 worth of gas just after 9 p.m. that night at the Farrell Speed Check, 1301 Sharon-New Castle Road in Farrell, police said.
That gasoline was used to set fire to Norris’ home, police said. She was killed in the fire.
Farrell police Detective Capt. Chuck Rubano said Norris was probably asleep in her second-floor bedroom after working at least a double shift when the fire was set.
Coleman, of Farrell, was arrested within days of the fire on charges of homicide, conspiracy to commit aggravated arson and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. The prosecution of his case is delayed pending rulings from the Common Pleas Court of Mercer County and state Superior Court on pretrial motions.
Attorneys could not say when or if Gilchrist’s case is going to trial.
Gilchrist is charged with several offenses, including second-degree murder, aggravated arson, arson, aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit aggravated arson and aggravated assault.
The chain of events that led to Norris’ death started with a fight over money between a brother and sister, Rubano said in October during Gilchrist’s preliminary hearing.
In the hearing, Rubano testified that Coleman admitted the fire was intentionally set as a reaction to an earlier domestic assault involving a relative of Gilchrist’s who lives at 1139 Wallis Ave., which is within three feet of Norris’ house. Gilchrist had targeted the relative after allegations that the relative had beaten another of Gilchrist’s relatives.
Coleman told police that he went to the gas station with the driver, who borrowed a dollar for gas. Coleman then mistakenly pointed to Norris’ house and told the driver to set it on fire.
Less than an hour after the sport-utility vehicle left the Farrell gas station, firefighters from Farrell, Sharon, Sharpsville, Hermitage and Patagonia responded to the fire at Norris’ home.
A dog from the Beaver Falls K-9 unit, trained to detect accelerants, helped a state police fire marshal confirm the presence of gasoline on Norris’ back porch, Rubano said.
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