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Westmoreland

Murder trial set for Latrobe man accused of shooting classmate

Joe Napsha
| Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 5:33 p.m.
Zachery T. McGrath of Latrobe is charged in the shooting death of Daniel McNerny.
Zachery T. McGrath of Latrobe is charged in the shooting death of Daniel McNerny.

A man accused of fatally shooting a friend and former classmate in January 2016 during a drug deal and botched robbery in Latrobe is scheduled to go to trial on June 4, a Westmoreland County judge ruled Tuesday.

Zachary T. McGrath, 23, of Latrobe, will go trial before Judge Meagan Bilik-Defazio on first-degree murder charges in connection with the Jan. 19, 2016 shooting death of Daniel McNerny, 20, also of Latrobe. The judge set the date during a pre-trial conference with District Attorney John Peck and Public Defender Wayne McGrew.

McGrath's case has been severed from two co-defendants in the slaying, Colin Gearhart, 20, of Latrobe, and Austin Krinock, 20, of Johnstown. Gearhart and Krinock both face charges of second- and third-degree murder and robbery.

Gearheart and Krinock, who were 17 at the time of the shooting, have attempted to have their cases moved to juvenile court. Bilik-Defazio denied Gearheart's request and the judge heard arguments Monday by Krinock's attorney, Brian Aston, to have him tried as a juvenile. The judge has not ruled on Krinock's request to move his case to juvenile court.

McNerny was slain as he tried to fight a would-be robber waiting outside a St. Clair Street residence to steal drugs and money from two Allegheny County drug dealers. Police had determined that the two drug dealers were McGrath's target. McGrath allegedly conspired with Gearhart and Krinock to rob the two dealers.

McGrath, who was dressed in black and had covered his face with a ski mask, is accused of shooting the victim as McNerny was trying to disarm him. One of the shots hit McNerny as he attempted to crawl back inside the home, police said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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