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Monessen man faces trial in murder case

| Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 10:09 p.m.
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Christopher Allshouse, 40, has been charged with criminal homicide for allegedly shooting James Ritter, 54, three times, including twice in the head after an argument concerning drugs and entering a rehab facility on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014.

A Monessen man accused of fatally shooting his mother's boyfriend was ordered Friday to stand trial in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court.

Christopher Allshouse, 40, stoically stared forward throughout his preliminary hearing on a criminal homicide charge before Magisterial District Judge Joseph Dalfonso in Monessen.

Allshouse is accused in the death of James Ritter, 54, of 126 Donner Ave. Allshouse and his mother, Linda Craig, also lived there.

Monessen patrolman James Franks testified that police were dispatched to the residence just after 11:30 p.m. Feb. 12 for a reported shooting.

“The victim was laying just at the bottom of the steps outside the front of the residence,” Franks told Westmoreland County Assistant District Attorney Tom Grace.

“I noticed there was some blood in the snow near the victim's head. He was laying on his back with his head cocked to the side. You could see blood coming from some sort of wound from the head.”

Ritter was shot with a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol registered to Allshouse, Monessen police Chief John Mandarino said.

Franks testified that when he arrived, Allshouse was in the doorway of the home.

Allshouse told Franks he was the shooter, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

“I placed him under arrest, patted him down and sat him on the couch,” Franks testified. “He was calm the entire time. I asked him where the gun was; he said it was on the kitchen table.”

In cross-examining Franks, defense attorney Donna McClelland focused on when Allshouse was informed of his Miranda rights to silence and legal representation and when he allegedly confessed to the shooting.

Ritter was pronounced dead at Monongahela Valley Hospital in Carroll Township. Dr. Todd Luckasevic, a forensic pathologist, performed an autopsy.

Grace read Luckasevic's report, which indicated Ritter has been shot four times: twice in the head, once in the lower chest and once in the left shoulder and arm.

“According to Dr. Luckasevic, James Ritter .... died of penetrating gunshot wounds to the head and trunk,” Grace said.

Police allege the shooting occurred following an argument about drugs and about Allshouse entering drug rehabilitation treatment.

Craig allegedly gave police a written statement saying that she heard several loud popping noises that night.

When she came downstairs and asked Allshouse what was going on, he allegedly told her that he had shot Ritter, the affidavit states.

Allshouse allegedly told police he consumed several beers prior to the shooting.

Allshouse was returned to the Westmoreland County Prison in Hempfield Township, where he is being held without bond.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2667.