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3rd heads to trial in disabled Harrison man's death

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Lisa Duff on July 18, 2013, was sentenced to serve at least 6 months in jail on charges she helped her husband, Larry Duff, move the body of her disabled brother-in-law, Ronald Duff, in October 2012. Ronald Duff died in their Harrison home after Larry Duff and another man, Jason Link, beat him.

A third person will stand trial for the death of a care-dependant Harrison man in October.

On Wednesday, Lisa Duff, 39, formerly of 112 Blue Ridge Ave., Harrison waived charges to court rather than have a preliminary hearing.

She is charged with neglect, simple assault and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence in the death of her disabled brother-in-law, Ronald Duff.

Ronald Duff, a 61-year-old mentally and physically disabled man, was found dead Oct. 15 in the house that he and the three suspects lived in. The house has been condemned.

Lisa Duff told Brackenridge District Judge Carolyn Bengel that she understood she had a right to a preliminary hearing but said little else.

After the brief court appearance, Duff's attorney, Stephen F. Capone, said his client is not guilty of the charges. He said his firm continues to investigate what happened.

“This was terrible event,” he said about the death.

Duff remains free in lieu of $5,000 bond pending trial that will be scheduled sometime after she is formally arraigned in Allegheny County Court in January.

She is the third person to face trial in the case.

Earlier this month, Ronald Duff's brother, Larry Duff, 56, and Jason Link, 22, were ordered to stand trial for third-degree murder, aggravated assault, neglect of a care-dependent person, and conspiracy.

Allegheny County investigators haven't been able to determine a single cause for Ronald Duff's death, but they say the evidence indicates that he died from cumulative abuse.

An autopsy revealed injuries to an eye, broken ribs and bleeding on the brain.

Ronald Duff had been given prescription medicine before he moved in with his brother last April, but investigators said they didn't find any medication for him in the home.

The victim weighed 178 pounds when released from Butler Memorial Hospital to stay with his brother.

He weighed just 112 pounds when he died, a prosecutor said at the preliminary hearing for Larry Duff and Link.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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