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Murder of Leechburg man and girlfriend draws double life sentence

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 3:35 p.m.
Marcelle Edwards and Donald Shay
Scott A. Black -- pleaded guilty to double homicide in Forest County.

Scott A. Black started life in state prison Wednesday.

Black, 38, was driven from the Forest County jail to the state prison in Pittsburgh, where he will be held temporarily before officials decide where he ultimately will spent the rest of his life for killing a Leechburg man and a woman in Forest County last April.

Rather than go to trial in March, Black, of Butler pleaded guilty Feb. 12 to fatally stabbing Donald L. Shay, 43, of Leechburg and Marcelle I. Edwards, 42, at her home in Green Township, Forest County. The area is on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest, a few miles east of Tionesta.

Shay died of multiple stab wounds and was found on the porch of Edwards' mobile home. Edwards died of a single throat wound; she was in the kitchen.

Forest County Judge Maureen A. Skerda immediately sentenced Black to two life sentences without parole, the county clerk said.

Forest County District Attorney Elizabeth Zieglar had chosen not to seek the death penalty for Black.

A state Corrections Department spokeswoman said Black will wait at the state penitentiary in Pittsburgh until there are enough inmates to transport to the state prison in Camp Hill, near Harrisburg, where the diagnostic and classification center decides where men are incarcerated.

Black admitted attacking the couple at about 1 a.m. last April 27, according to the Forest County clerk of courts.

Black had once been engaged to Edwards.

Forest County Sheriff Robert L. Wolfgang said Black took responsibility for the homicides and apologized to their families.

“He said he wished he could take it back but he knew that he couldn't,” Wolfgang said Wednesday.

“The judge said there is no possibility of parole,” Wolfgang said.

Trial was scheduled for March 5, but Black instead entered guilty pleas to both homicides.

Court appointed defense attorney Fred D. Hummel Jr. declined to comment.

The Shay family owned a camp near Tionesta and that is how he met Edwards. Shay served in the Army during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and was a carpenter by trade. He also was active in the Buffalo Township Emergency Medical Service.

The family didn't return calls for comment.

Edwards worked part time as a waitress at the Hunters Station Golf Course and Restaurant near Tionesta.

Officials believe Black spent the winter of 2013 in the Butler area but had been staying in the weeks leading to the homicides in a pop-up trailer a few miles from Edwards' trailer.

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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