Homicide defendants may get another chance

Local News

ERIE, Pa. — Four men charged with the shooting death of a teenager last summer are asking the state Superior Court for an appeal after witnesses did not testify during their first court hearing.

During the preliminary hearing for four men charged with killing Shakur Franklin, only a detective testified using hearsay evidence about what happened on July 25, 2015 on West 29th and Summit streets.

Because no witnesses took the stand, all four attorneys are asking for the Superior Court to step in.

Stephen Russel, Demond Mitchel, Keshawn McLaurin and Jahaun Jones may be given another chance.

That is, if the state Superior Court decides hearsay is not acceptable at a preliminary hearing.

All four men are charged with the shooting death of Franklin, while Darion Eady, 21, is charged for the death of Jackson.

A judge denied their motions, which is why the appeal may be taken to the higher court.

Hearsay, which allows someone else to speak for witnesses, is allowed in Pennsylvania due to the state Supreme Court decisions in Commonwealth v. Ricker.

However, that decision is currently under appeal, which is why the state may accept the appeal in the homicide case. 

“If they rule in our favor, and agree that hearsay alone is not permitted at the time of a preliminary hearing, then it would be we could have another hearing and what would happen then is the Commonwealth would be required to call these witnesses,” defense attorney Eric Hackwelder said. 

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