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Hearing delayed in fatal shooting near adult club

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Memorial gifts and messages were left along Munn Street in Munhall where John Sumpter IV, 32, of Pittsburgh was killed on March 3.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
 

A Munhall man charged with homicide and a firearms violation in connection with a shooting outside an adult entertainment establishment in the borough will wait a little longer for his day in court.

Paul Barone, 23, was scheduled to go before Magisterial District Judge Leonard Hromyak for a preliminary hearing Friday morning at Pittsburgh Municipal Court.

Assistant district attorney Chris Avetta was granted a postponement until May 17 at 10 a.m.

Barone's charges stem from the March 3 murder of John Sumpter IV, 32, of Pittsburgh, in his vehicle parked along Este Way outside Club Pink.

Barone's attorney, Kevin Abramovitz, maintained his client's innocence following the postponement, noting he has not seen “a witness get up on the stand and testify in a credible manner” and withstand cross- examination.

“We haven't even had the preliminary hearing yet,” he stressed.

Barone's family and friends present in court on Friday declined comment. Avetta also had no comment on the case.

This marks the fourth postponement of the hearing. Previously it was rescheduled on March 8, March 15 and March 22.

The last rescheduling was at the defense's request following an issue with a witness.

That person attempted to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify, prompting attorneys from all sides to go to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to determine if the witness could make that claim.

Common Pleas Judge Beth Lazzara ruled the witness didn't have to testify about certain aspects of the night of the shooting.

“The issue was resolved,” the witness' attorney Chris Urbano said Friday morning.

Barone remains in Allegheny County Jail.

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. The officer reportedly 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 reportedly ran out of the right rear door into a wooded area. Court documents indicate that 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 and was pronounced dead at 4:04 a.m. His vehicle was struck with gunfire several times and the 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.”

Since the shooting, Munhall council revoked the occupancy permit of Club Pink, citing violations of the borough's adult entertainment ordinance. The business closed on March 21, but was permitted to reopen via an April ruling by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James.

Munhall police Chief Pat Campbell said there have no reports of criminal activity at the club since it reopened.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965 ,or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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