President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman declared a mistrial in the case against three accused drug dealers yesterday.
Vincent L. Panebianco, 29, of Clearfield, Darrell L. Taylor, 30, and Marcus Homer Waltmon, 41, of Clearfield, are accused of being a part of a methamphetamine distribution organization in Clearfield.
According to testimony at trial, Lawrence Township Police suspected a house at 1815 Daisy Street Ext. was being used for the sale of drugs due to the high volume of short stay traffic at the home.
On Feb. 1 agents from the state attorney general’s office and members of the Clearfield County Drug Task force set up surveillance at the home. While the home was under surveillance, Waltmon left in a vehicle with Eric Kyler, 42, of Clearfield. State police stopped the vehicle and found $19,000 in cash inside the vehicle and a syringe containing methamphetamine and various drug paraphernalia such as scales and packaging materials.
Police believe that Kyler and Waltmon were traveling to Akron, Ohio to purchase more methamphetamine, according to Senior Deputy Attorney General David Gorman.
Authorities then raided the home and found an ounce of methamphetamine, a handgun and a shotgun. Panebianco, who was renting the home, was also present with his young child. Waltmon was also found in a bedroom of the home and had $1,040 in cash on his person.
Another juvenile was downstairs playing video games in the home when the home was raided by police.
Officer Zachary Cowan of the Lawrence Township Police Department was testifying when Gorman asked if the township police had concerns about the home at 1815 Daisy Street Ext. Cowan said they did because there was significant short stay traffic at the home where people would walk or drive up to the home, stay a short time and leave.
Gorman then asked if he recognized any of the people who would walk to the home and Cowan said he did. Gorman asked him how he knew them and Cowan said he saw previous drug offenders visit the home.
Attorney Leanne Nedza of the public defender’s office, who was representing Panebianco, objected Cowan’s comments and attorneys for all three defendants, Gorman and Ammerman held a lengthy sidebar — first at the bench. After about 20 minutes, Ammerman had the jury removed from the courtroom and the attorneys made their arguments in open court.
Nedza said this is the first she has ever heard Cowan say he saw drug offenders visit the home and said none of this information was provided to her in discovery. Gorman argued that although Cowan doesn’t specifically use these words previously, there are numerous mentions by authorities that they suspect the home is being used for drug distribution.
Ammerman said unless the officer has a written report with specific names of drug offenders who visited the home, he cannot allow that testimony because it is highly prejudicial to the defense.
Nedza agreed and said the jury can’t “unhear” Cowan’s testimony and asked for a mistrial. Attorney Joseph Andrew Valenza of Clearfield, who was representing Taylor, agreed with Nedza in that a mistrial be declared and said he would be afraid to cross examine Cowan if the trial were to continue because it could “open up a can of worms.”
Attorney Joshua Maines of Clearfield, who was representing Waltmon, also agreed that a mistrial should be declared.
Ammmeran adjourned for approximately 20 minutes to consider the motion. When he returned, Ammerman again reiterated that Cowan’s testimony is highly prejudicial to the defense and said courtroom tip staff informed him that they could hear Gorman talking during sidebar from the back of the courtroom. A sheriff’s deputy also said he could hear Gorman and other attorneys when they argued during sidebar.
Ammerman said if the tip staff and sheriff deputies could hear what was being said, then the jury could, too, and for those two reasons he declared a mistrial — which would require the commonwealth to schedule a new trial in front of a new jury.
Nedza then asked that her client’s bail be reduced to unsecured or to a nominal amount because he has been in jail since February. Gorman said he was opposed to any reduction in bail and noted that the mistrial was declared on Nedza’s motion.
Ammerman said he was not going to hear any oral arguments on bail reduction and said Nedza could submit a motion in writing.
Waltmon is charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, conspiracy — possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, both of which are ungraded felonies and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities. Taylor and Panebianco are each charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, conspiracy — possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, both of which are ungraded felonies, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities and two counts of endangering the welfare of children.
Waltmon is incarcerated in lieu of $100,000 monetary bail, Taylor in lieu of $250,000 monetary bail and Penebianco in lieu of $125,000 monetary bail.
Many people across the Southeast should plan for wet weather during their Halloween festivities, including folks in the Progressland region.
In the Clearfield area on Wednesday, expect rain overnight tonight with wind gusts up to 7 mph with a high of 64 degrees and a low of 55. Winds will pick up overnight. On Thursday, trick-or-treaters should expect more rain with wind gusts up to 44 mph and a high of 66 degrees and a low of 38. The rain is expected to clear by Friday and the winds will die down to 15 mph. Friday’s high will be 45 degrees and the low will be 27 degrees.
As if soaking rain, accumulating snow and bitterly cold air weren’t enough, strong winds will also whip a large swath of the nation as a potent storm system hits the United States at the end of October.
From late Wednesday through Friday gusty winds will spread and shift all the way from the central and southern Plains through the Northeast.
Regions from northern Illinois to eastern Kansas southward through Texas will be the first to experience the strong winds Wednesday, although these areas won’t experience the strongest gusts of the entire storm system.
Cities and surrounding suburbs from Chicago to Kansas City through Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio will feel gusts of 30-40 mph from Wednesday into Wednesday night.
“Aside from tossing about some unsecured lawn items, such as Halloween decorations or trash bins, winds of this magnitude in the region are unlikely to cause much damage,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio.
The combination of dangerous crosswinds for high-profile vehicles and precipitation will result in travel disruptions.
Winds will intensify Thursday into Friday across the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Northeast as the center of the strengthening storm shifts from the lower Mississippi Valley into the eastern Great Lakes.
Peak wind gusts will increase to 45-55 mph across a large area from the Great Lakes and eastern Ohio Valley through the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. Even higher gusts are anticipated along the eastern shores of the Great Lakes, as well as along the Atlantic coast from Long Island into New England.
Unabated by the lake waters, some gusts along the coasts of the eastern Great Lakes, and perhaps Long Island and southern New England can reach hurricane force (74 mph or greater).
“Farther away from shorelines, friction caused by trees, buildings and varying terrain help to reduce the magnitude of the wind some,” Bill Deger, AccuWeather meteorologist, said. “The open waters of lakes or the ocean provide very little frictional resistance, allowing for stronger wind gusts to occur closer to the shore.”
These gusts will pose a significant threat to high-profile vehicles traveling through the region. Interstate 90, running very near to the Lake Erie shore, could prove particularly hazardous to high-profile vehicles. Some of the strongest wind gusts of the event may occur from around Cleveland up the Lake Erie shore to Buffalo, New York, as southwesterly to westerly winds funnel up the lake.
Long Island and the southern coast of New England through Cape Cod will also be at risk for some of the strongest wind gusts of the event. Southerly winds racing along across the Atlantic will blast coastal communities in this region.
Coastal flooding will also be significant problem, mainly along the eastern shores of the Great Lakes and along the Atlantic coast, especially at high tide. The worst coastal flooding will threaten the eastern ends of lakes Erie and Ontario, where an event called a seiche will occur.
“A seiche is when strong winds blowing largely parallel to a lake for an extending period cause water to ‘pile up’ at the end of the lake,” Rossio said.
Even away from immediate coastlines, wind gusts will be plenty strong enough to pose a threat. Downed trees and power lines can occur throughout the Great Lakes and Northeast.
This windstorm will also expand the regions where peak fall foliage viewing will come to an end. Most of the Great Lakes and northern mid-Atlantic into southern New England is still at high or peak color, according to the Foliage Network. The gusty winds late this week will rip many of the leaves from the trees in this zone.
Winds will gradually subside across the Great Lakes and Northeast later Friday.
Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. has announced Clearfield County’s Fugitive of the Week for the week of Oct. 28.
Shaw identified the fugitive as Kenneth Matthews, 41, of Clearfield Glen Richey Highway, Glen Richey.
Shaw stated that Matthews is wanted in two separate cases for failure to appear at Sentencing Court held on May 21, at which time a warrant was issued for his arrest.
On Feb. 15, Clearfield Borough Police filed a criminal complaint charging Matthews with possession of a controlled substance, M; and use/possession of drug paraphernalia, M.
An affidavit of probable cause filed by police states that on Feb. 6, officers made contact with an individual, later identified as Matthews, who was slumped over the steering wheel of a vehicle. Upon making contact with Matthews, he appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance. At that time, officers noticed a clear pipe within the vehicle. A subsequent search revealed controlled substances.
In a separate case, Clearfield Borough Police filed a criminal complaint charging Matthews with terroristic threats, M1; stalking, M1; and harassment, M3 due to an incident that occurred on Feb. 10.
On Feb. 21, a preliminary hearing was held and all charges were held to court. On May 21, Matthews failed to appear for Sentencing Court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Anyone with knowledge of Matthews’ location is asked to call Clearfield County Crime Stoppers at (800)-376-4700. All calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential.
Anonymous tips can also be submitted by visiting the Clearfield County District Attorney web site at “www.ClearfieldDA.org” and selecting “Report A Crime.”
A fundraiser campaign has been launched to assist a local family with funeral expenses after a fire ripped through their 127 Jury Street home in Lawrence Township early Monday morning.
Ariel Erickson Montero, step-daughter of Mary Erickson, 51, who perished in the blaze, began a GoFundMe account in an effort to raise $15,000 to pay for funeral expenses for both Mary Erickson and a 7-year-old girl who also died.
Harry Erickson Jr., 30, who jumped from a window to escape the blaze, and a six-year-old girl were airlifted to Pittsburgh hospitals for treatment.
“It isn’t looking good,” Ariel Montero said in a statement to The Progress on Tuesday regarding the health of the youngest child. “We may have to fund three funerals. We truly appreciate everyone at this time, as it feels so unreal.”
Ariel Montero said the 6-year-old, who is being treated at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, is her youngest sister and is on life support.
The cause of death for both victims has not yet been determined. Clearfield County Coroner Kim Shaffer Snyder said autopsies were scheduled at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
State Police Fire Marshal Cpl. Greg Agosti said the cause of the blaze that destroyed the single family dwelling was accidental and caused by an overloaded electrical circuit.
The family did not utilize smoke alarms. Damage is estimated to be $150,000, and the home was not insured.
To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/rgk9ya-funeral-expenses. Donations can also be mailed to Ariel Montero, 1378 Arrow Way, Bear, DE 19701.
There are plenty of races at higher levels that voters will see at the polls on Tuesday, but there are just as many contested races in Progressland at the township level as well for supervisor posts.
In Bigler Township, current Supervisor Keith Furrevig is not on the ballot, as Dwayne DeLattre and Barry Reams are listed as Democratic and Republican candidates, respectively, for a six-year term starting in January. Either one would join current Supervisors R. Philbert Myers and Randy Mick.
Morris Township has a similar situation in that a new supervisor will be sworn in come January. Longtime Supervisor Richard “Tony” O’Dell lost in the Primary Election and on the ballot to replace him on the Democratic side is Emerson Reams, while the Republican nomination is Josiah Jones. Either Reams or Jones would then join current Supervisors John Saggese and James Williams for a six-year term.
Decatur Township will also see a new supervisor, as longtime Supervisor Richard Yarger is not on the ballot. Replacing him for a six-year term to serve with current Supervisor Andy Rebar will be either Michael Shimmel on the Democratic side or William Vogle on the Republican side.
Shimmel will have two chances at it — as he is also on the ballot for a four-year term against Republican and current Supervisor James Rice — who was appointed earlier this year after the court-ordered resignation of Doug McClellan.
Cooper Township residents will see current Supervisor and Republican Charlie Saggese go against Democrat William Dolby for a six-year term, as either candidate would then be a supervisor with incumbents Wayne Josephson and Randy Killion. Covington Township is much of the same, as current Supervisor Merle Roussey will run once again for a six-year term on the Democratic side. Roussey’s opponent on the Republican side is Todd Fedder.