Lower Burrell man Ameris to go to trial in cases involving guns, drugs, witness intimidation
A Lower Burrell man is allowed to withdraw “no contest” pleas and will instead stand trial in four cases involving guns, drugs and witness intimidation, a judge ruled Monday.
Westmoreland County President Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. also cleared the way for James A. “Lutzo” Ameris III, 54, of Fairview Drive,to stay in a 64-year-old family friend's house along Fifth Avenue in New Kensington if the residence is approved.
McCormick instructed court personnel to investigate the suitability of the residence for allowing Ameris to stay while he awaits trial. He would be electronically monitored via an ankle bracelet.
Ameris has been in the county jail in lieu of $130,000 bond since May 1, 2012 for allegedly threatening a witness against him.
He is charges in four cases:
• Illegally possessing a .22-caliber rifle and drugs in his residence. He has a criminal record and cannot have any firearms.
• Three firearms violations in a March 2012 case.
• Drug and gun charges in an April 2012 case.
• In another 2012 case, he is accused of threatening a witness against him.
No contest pleas
On June 2, Ameris pleaded no contest to 11 charges in four cases. His sentencing was scheduled for the end of August.
One of those charges alleges that Ameris possessed a .40-caliber pistol that another man, Charlie Post, used to kill Lower Burrell police officer Derek Kotecki almost three years ago.
Ameris has said through his attorney, Duke George, that he drove the man to the Lower Burrell Dairy Queen in Oct. 12, 2011, but Ameris denies ever having the pistol and says he didn't know Post would shoot. Post was on the lam after he shot a man earlier that month. Post shot himself to death as police closed in on him.
Although he pleaded no contest to the four cases on June 2, Ameris has decided to stand trial. So he asked George to withdraw the no contest pleas.
George also asked that Ameris be allowed to stay with a New Kensington woman who is an old Ameris family friend.
At a Friday hearing, Assistant District Attorney Leo J. Ciaramitaro argued against both motions, saying that the pleas should remain in effect and that the woman couldn't provide a suitable place for Ameris to stay.
McCormick disagreed with those arguments and issued the two orders Monday.
Ciaramitaro said Monday one case could be tried as soon as October.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- 2 arrested in drug raid at Arnold home
- Woman thwarted abduction, police say
- Pittsburgh Street in Springdale closed until Monday
- Dermody calls deficit top priority
- Winfield man is one of a few to attend all 49 Super Bowl games
- Winfield Township to try road treatment mix
- Residents opposed to drilling, Consol subsidiary make cases in Allegheny Township
- Driver leaps from sliding truck just before it topples down hillside in Fawn
- Gunman sought in gas station robberies in Jefferson, Buffalo townships
- Popular Super Bowl, March Madness traditions prohibited under state law
- Second teen charged in Jan. 1 Tarentum shooting