Defense attorney requests delay in fatal shooting near Munhall strip club
The preliminary hearing for a Munhall man accused in a fatal shooting was postponed on Friday for a third time.
Paul Barone, 23, was scheduled to go before Magisterial District Judge Randy Martini on charges of homicide and a firearms violation.
His new hearing date is April 26 at 8:30 a.m.
The charges stem from the March 3 murder of John Sumpter IV, 32, of Pittsburgh, in his vehicle parked on Este Way outside Club Pink in Munhall.
Before Friday morning's hearing began, prosecutors learned that one of their witnesses was attempting to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.
Attorneys for the prosecution, defense and the witness had to go from Pittsburgh Municipal Court to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to determine if the witness could make that claim. The parties went before Common Pleas Judge Beth Lazzara, who reportedly determined the witness didn't have to testify about certain aspects of the night of the shooting.
“She said he can testify to certain things and not to others,” Barone's attorney Kevin Abramovitz said. “My understanding was always that it was all or nothing. I didn't expect the ruling.”
He requested a postponement after Lazzara's decision.
“Now we have to do research on the best way to represent Mr. Barone,” Abramovitz said.
Attorney Chris Urbano said he was just retained on Thursday night by the unnamed witness.
“The judge said the Fifth Amendment privilege extends to him with regards to certain areas of testimony,” he said.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Avetta declined comment on the matter.
A Munhall police officer was patrolling the area of Club Pink at 936 E. Eighth Ave. on March 3 at around 4 a.m. when he heard several gunshots, according to the criminal complaint. It said the officer observed a dark-colored vehicle back down Munn Street, strike a fence at the intersection with Este Way, and drive forward on Este Way at a high rate of speed. The officer determined the vehicle was an Audi, obtained its license plate number and alerted other police units.
The Audi stopped when it reached the 1400 block of Ravine Street and a man later identified as Barone ran out of the right rear door into a wooded area, according to court documents. They said Barone was found on a hillside crouched down on a ledge and was taken into custody. Two other people in the Audi also were taken into custody, then released. Police found a .40-caliber Glock 22 pistol after searching the path where Barone ran, according to the criminal complaint.
Sumpter was found in his vehicle with a gunshot to the head near Club Pink and was pronounced dead at 4:04 a.m. His vehicle was struck with gunfire several times and its engine was running. An Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Mobile Crime Unit scientist found that a fragment of a spent projectile next to Sumpter's vehicle “was consistent from being fired from a Glock.”
Barone had bloodstains on his jacket, shoes and shirt, according to the criminal complaint. It said law enforcement determined a person captured on surveillance footage firing a gun in the direction of Sumpter's vehicle was Barone.
A witness also told police he saw Barone firing a gun at Sumpter's vehicle and later out of the Audi as it drove away, according to court documents.
Since the shooting, Munhall council revoked the occupancy permit of Club Pink, citing violations of the borough's adult entertainment ordinance. The business closed at midnight on Thursday and an attorney representing the club's owners said they likely will appeal council's decision.
Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or firstname.lastname@example.org.