Judge: Ameris to have 4 trials in Post-related cases
By Chuck Biedka
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 12:21 a.m.
A New Kensington man's admission to federal agents about illegally having guns won't be used in his upcoming trial in Westmoreland County Court.
County Judge John Blahovec also ruled late last month that James Anthony “Lutzo” Ameris III, 54, formerly of Fairview Drive, will have four trials instead of one, as had been scheduled.
While Blahovec approved two of the pre-trial motions, he rejected two other defense attorney requests.
First, Blahovec refused to reduce bond for Ameris, who remains in the county jail in lieu of $230,000 bond pending trial.
Second, the judge refused to throw out evidence that state police say they found inside the Fairview Drive house.
Three people are facing trial later this year for allegedly helping to hide Charlie Post after an Oct. 2, 2011 shooting — 10 days before Post fatally shot Lower Burrell police Officer Derek Kotecki.
Ameris was the man who drove Post to the Dairy Queen along Greensburg Road minutes before police arrived. Ameris went inside the restaurant, and Kotecki was shot to death in the parking lot while trying to arrest Post, 33, of Lower Burrell.
Post, in turn, died moments later by shooting himself just as he was shot by police.
Police and federal agents investigated later to see how Post got the gun.
In March 2012, after being assured by a federal attorney that he wouldn't face federal gun charges, Ameris and his attorney talked with federal agents about where he obtained several guns.
A Westmoreland County detective was present. After an investigation, the county detective charged Ameris on state charges.
Defense attorney Duke George has argued that the immunity also applied to the state charges.Ameris told agents that he didn't give the cop-killer gun to Post, but that he did have another handgun.
Ameris has a criminal record and cannot legally own firearms.
In his order, Blahovec ruled that Ameris' initial attorney, who was not George, would not have allowed Ameris to talk about the gun if he faced a state charge.
Assistant District Attorney Leo J. Ciaramitaro said the prosecution respects the court ruling.
He said there are witnesses who can testify about the alleged confession that the judge suppressed.
But George countered that “we will argue that the witnesses would be ‘fruits of the poison tree' and not usable.”
The judge ordered separate trials because scheduling only one would prejudice Ameris.
In two of the cases, Ameris is accused of having the .40-caliber pistol before Post used it; illegal possession of another gun.
He also is accused of having yet another gun and drugs inside the Fairview Drive house.
The other charges involve victim intimidation and attempting to get a witness to give false or misleading statement against Ameris.
Ameris is accused of intimidating Nevin Lawson, 43, of Shearsburg Road, Allegheny Township.
He is one of three men who faced charges involving the gun Post used to kill Kotecki.
Lawson has waived to court a charge of making a false written statement and a gun charge. The case was continued in November and wasn't rescheduled as of Tuesday, Lawson's attorney confirmed.
In the intimidation case, Ameris allegedly tried to get Lawson to change his story that Ameris got the cop-killer gun from him.
Ameris' attorney denies that.Two other men have been tried and sentenced for illegal gun possession and transfer or sale of the pistol.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fear of building collapse closes Tarentum road
- Development involving former Heights Elementary to expand
- Prospective Eagle Scouts line up for Lower Burrell community projects
- Allegheny Township board approves RV sales lot on Route 356
- Valley’s marina owners ready to repair ice-damaged docks
- Tax delinquency’s impact varies in Valley
- With no money for upkeep, Prospect Cemetery Association board to disband
- Charges against police chief have Springdale mayor crying foul
- Pension woes push A-K Valley school districts to seek higher tax limits
- Deer Creek mine discharge project should be wrapped up by late spring
- 4 men to stand trial for home invasion, shooting in Lower Burrell