Castle Doctrine Defense: Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer Obtains Acquittal on Washington County Homicide

The Pittsburgh Criminal Law firm of FrankWalkerLaw obtained an acquittal on Homicide Charges in a widely publicized Murder Trial involving Self-Defense.

The central issue was whether a decorated Afghanistan and Iraqi veteran, Brandon Thomas, was found NOT GUILTY of First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Third Degree Murder or Voluntary Homicide when he shot and killed Vaughn Simonelli.  To reach their verdict, the Washington County Jury had to determine whether Mr. Thomas was justified in his actions or whether his actions were protected under the Castle Doctrine Law of Pennsylvania.

Generally, to establish the defense of self-defense, or defense of others, it must be shown that a) the slayer, or the other he seeks to protect, was free from fault in provoking or continuing the difficulty which resulted in the slaying; b) that the slayer must have reasonably believed that he [or the other he seeks to protect] was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm, and that there was a necessity to use such force in order to save himself [or the other] therefrom; and c) the slayer [or the other he seeks to protect] did not violate any duty to retreat or to avoid the danger.

If there is any evidence from whatever source that will support these three elements then the decision as to whether the claim is a valid one is left to the jury and the jury must be charged properly thereon by the trial court.

However, the case of Commonwealth v. Brandon Thomas is unique because it was the first case where the Castle Doctrine was raised as a defense in addition to the general rule of Self-Defense or Justification.

The Castle Doctrine of Pennsylvania provides that an actor is presumed to have a reasonable belief that deadly force is immediately necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat if both of the following conditions exist: The person against whom the force is used is in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or has unlawfully and forcefully entered and is present within, a dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle; or the person against whom the force is used is or is attempting to unlawfully and forcefully remove another against that other’s will from the dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle.

In Commonwealth v. Thomas, the Defense established through witness and scientific evidence that Mr. Thomas was in his car during the time of the shooting and that the assailant, Vaughn Simonelli, was unlawfully attacking Mr. Thomas through the window of of his vehicle. Applying the law of self defense and Castle Doctrine Defense, the jury was free to presume that the Defendant’s force used against Vaughn Simonelli was lawful and accordingly found Mr. Thomas justified and acquitted him of Murder and Manslaughter charges. 

Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer Frank Walker was satisfied with the verdict and simply stated, “The jury heard the facts and found that Vaughn Simonelli attacked Mr. Thomas, Mr. Thomas retreated to his car and was attacked again by Vaughn Simonelli when he attempted to enter and attack Mr. Thomas through his car window. Mr. Thomas used whatever force was necessary to defend himself against the attack and the jury found the same.”

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-315-744124 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

 

Pittsburgh McDonald’s Worker Arrested for Allegedly Selling Drugs at Work

Pittsburgh police have announced the arrest of a Pennsylvania man in connection with a novel way of selling the drug heroin. According to police documents, the man is said to have used his job working at  McDonald’s to distribute the drug to his customers, who would come to the restaurant’s drive-through window in order to buy make the purchase.

The 28 year old accused is alleged to have concocted a scheme in which customers looking to purchase heroin would come to the McDonald’s drive-through and say “I would like to order a toy.” They would then go to the first window and pay for the drugs, which would be delivered in a Happy Meal box. The drivers would then leave the restaurant instead of moving forward to the second drive-through window.

The alleged scheme unraveled after the arrest of one of the accused’s customers. The 26 year old woman was stopped by police and found to have 10 bags of heroin. After an interrogation the woman notified police of the scheme. Police then used a confidential informant to make a heroin purchase from the accused, which occurred in the parking lot of the McDonald’s.

At the time of his arrest the accused was on early release from a three-year prison sentence after a possession with intent to deliver conviction. He is now facing charges including possession of heroin and delivery of heroin.

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-315-744124 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

Homewood Shootout Leads to 2 Arrests

A shootout in Homewood early Wednesday has resulted in the arrest of two Pittsburgh residents, police said.  A man and a woman were arrested as a result of the incident, which occurred with a police officer close enough to hear the gun shots.

Pittsburgh Police Sgt. Charles Henderson was in the Homewood area early Wednesday morning, when he heard multiple shots at about 1:30 a.m. He then noticed an SUV driving toward him with its lights turned off, and stopped the vehicle. Sgt. Henderson noticed that the car had been “involved in a gunfight,” as there were “multiple bullet wounds on the car.”

Sgt. Henderson questioned occupants of the vehicle, a man and a woman, about the incident. Upon further investigation the man was found to be wearing a military grade bulletproof vest, and was also found to be on house arrest and facing several arrest warrants in another county. The woman was found to be in possession of a firearm. Both the man and the woman were arrested in connection with the shootout.

Upon further investigation police found 21 bullet shell casings along Kelly Street in Homewood. Though several cars were hit by the shots, no one was reported injured. Police believe that there were other people involved in the shootout, and continue to search for anyone else who may have been involved.

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-315-744124 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

Pittsburgh School Worker Charged with Seeking Sex with a Minor

A repair man for a charter school in Pittsburgh has been arrested and charged with seeking sex from a minor.

The 62 year-old accused allegedly placed at least one ad on popular classifieds website Craigslist.com, looking for someone to engage in sexual fantasies with him. The ad, which stated that age was no barrier, came to the attention of city vice officers, who began a conversation with the man while posing as a 14 year old girl. According to police, after some time chatting, the man asked for an in-person meeting.

Police say the man tried to hide his identity by using Wi-Fi connections at businesses such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. Police eventually lured the man to a home that he thought was the residence of the under aged girl. It was there that he was arrested.

In their investigation police will try to determine if the man has been in communication with, or has had sexual contact with any other minors. According to the police report the man has already admitted to authorities that he possesses pornographic images of children on his computer.

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-315-744124 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

Two Pittsburgh Area Women Arrested For Stealing Puppy From Animal Shelter

Surveillance video at the Animal Rescue League in Homewood captured images of two 25-year-old women stealing a puppy earlier this week. The women, one from Homestead and the other from West Mifflin, were arrested and charged with retail theft after the two-month-old pit bull Labrador mixed puppy was found at the Homestead woman’s house. The puppy was reportedly unharmed and the executive director of the Animal Rescue League stated that it was being returned to the shelter by police. The West Homestead police officer who found the puppy reported that the two women entered the shelter on Tuesday afternoon around 3:30pm and walked out with the puppy under one of their coats about 20 minutes later.

After entering the shelter with a young child and writing their names on a ledger at the main kennel area – which were later deemed illegible – they informed employees that they wanted to adopt a dog. They expressed interest in the puppy that they later stole, and after employees at the shelter informed the women that the puppy would cost $300, one of the women, according to the surveillance video, distracted employees while the other put the canine under her coat. A routine inventory check was done at the end of the night and it was then that the puppy was found to be missing. It is believed that the women were looking to sell the dog.

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-315-744124 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

Ten People Admit To Dealing Heroin in Clarksburg and Morgantown

According to U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II, ten people have admitted to dealing heroin in Clarksburg and Morgantown. Three people – one male and two females – ranging in age from 22 to 33 will appear before Magistrate Judge John S. Kaull and have pled guilty to distributing heroin within 1,000 feet of Pierpont Community and Technical College. Another female co-defendant pled not guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin. The defendants are from Pittsburgh, Bridgeport, Hepzibah, and Walkersville. The male defendant and one of the female defendants are in custody while another is free on bond. They all face sentences ranging from 20 to 40 years in prison.

In Morgantown, two male defendants ages 26 and 29, both residents of Morgantown, pled guilty to charges of distribution of heroin. Four more defendants – one female and three males – ranging in age from 26 to 32 pled guilty to distribution of heroin within 1,000 feet of West Virginia University and the Tot Lot playground at Marjorie Gardens. Their sentences are also expected to range between 20 and 40 years. The tenth defendant, a 29-year-old male from Morgantown, pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute as well as to distribute oxycodone. The suspect faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and is currently free on bond.

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-315-744124 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

Pittsburgh Man Held in Fatal Hit and Run

A Pennsylvania man is facing several charges, including driving under the influence, homicide by vehicle, accident involving death or injury while not licensed, and driving with an invalid license, after a hit-and-run accident early this week left a pedestrian dead.

The accused, a 25 year old man of Beechview, is alleged to have hit and killed a pedestrian in Brookline early Sunday morning, and then left the scene of the accident.  According to police, the man was driving a blue Ford Explorer in the 2300 block of Pioneer Avenue at about 2:20 a.m. when he struck the victim, who is also 25 years old. The victim was transported to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where he was pronounced dead just before 3:00 a.m.

Police used crime scene evidence to help identify the make and model of the vehicle involved in the accident. After putting out an alert for a blue Ford SUV or pickup with a broken bug shield, police were able to locate the vehicle parked at a home on the 900 block of Tropical Ave. Police were then able to locate the driver of the car and its three passengers inside the home where the car was found. After conducting interviews, law enforcement arrested the alleged driver of the vehicle and took him to Allegheny County jail for processing.

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-315-744124 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

Pittsburgh Criminal Attorney – 412-532-6805

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