Youngwood murder case hearings delayed for lack of sheriff deputies
Preliminary hearings for four people accused of plotting to rob and brutally stab an acquaintance in November were delayed Friday because no Westmoreland County sheriff's deputies were available to escort the suspects to court.
“They literally have every single available deputy or transporter” in New Florence assisting with a death penalty jury site visit, District Judge L. Anthony Bompiani told family members of Matthew Genard, 50. “We're all ready to move forward. Unfortunately, there aren't any defendants.”
Michael James Covington Jr., 20; Linda Kay Quidetto, 40; Jason Sullenberger, 40; and Christopher James “CJ” David, 40, all of Youngwood, are being held in the Westmoreland County Prison without bond on charges of homicide, robbery and conspiracy.
They are accused of various roles in Genard's November stabbing death at his Youngwood home. He was stabbed about 20 times , authorities have said.
Sheriff Jon Held said 12 deputies — a significant percentage of those on duty Friday — were handling security and other duties for the jury bus trip to New Florence to view the scene where St. Clair Township police Officer Lloyd Reed of Somerset County was gunned down Nov. 28, 2015, responding to a call for help during a domestic dispute.
The 70-mile round trip from Greensburg included court officials and the defendant, Ray Shetler Jr. of New Florence.
“There was concern about (Shetler's) safety, the judge's safety, the jurors' safety,” as well as the town's residents, Held said.
The sheriff said a normal daylight shift has 56 deputies working, but a number had scheduled Friday off. The department has 77 deputies, 19 of whom are part time.
“It's a balancing act” to cover various duties across the county and to stay within the department's budget, Held said.
Preliminary hearings for the suspects in Genard's death were rescheduled to March 2.
Police believe the alleged plot between them began the evening of Nov. 8.
David “mentioned that he wanted to rob” Genard of drugs and money because he was upset with him, according to a criminal complaint. All five people involved are acquaintances and drug users, police have said.
After Quidetto and Covington allegedly took a walk past Genard's home on Wineman Lane, they notified Sullenberger and David that Genard appeared to be home alone, police said.
Early Nov. 9, the three male suspects allegedly went to Genard's home. Police said that Covington stabbed Genard repeatedly in the back while Sullenberger restrained the victim. Sullenberger then took control of the knife and slit the victim's throat, police said.
They allegedly split up heroin, cocaine, marijuana and cash from Genard's home and fled. His body was found late Nov. 10, police said.
Quidetto, Sullenberger and Covington were arrested Nov. 16. David was arrested two days later.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @byrenatta.