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Stepolis' freedom will have to wait

- Joshua Stepoli
Joshua Stepoli
- Terrance Stepoli
Terrance Stepoli

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Two Monessen brothers looking forward to their first taste of freedom in more than a year are behind bars again.

Terrance Stepoli, 21, and Joshua Stepoli, 20, were scheduled to be released from the Westmoreland County Prison, but Washington County sheriff's deputies took them into custody Tuesday morning on a bench warrant.

They are now in the Washington County Correctional Facility for a bench warrant stemming from their 2012 convictions on gun charges for an incident in Charleroi.

Washington County Judge Katherine B. Emery issued the bench warrants for the Stepolis Dec. 4, 2012 — the same day they were involved in the shooting attempt on Jaisen Irwin of Monessen.

An official at the Westmoreland County Prison said the Stepolis were picked up around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday by Washington County sheriff's deputies.

The brothers, along with Antoine Hairston, 20, also of Monessen, pleaded guilty on Monday to charges related to the Dec. 4, 2012, shooting attempt on Irwin outside of his Monessen home.

Police said Irwin, then 19, was shot at by a group of at least five people who believed he spread rumors about their alleged involvement in the murder earlier that day of a local drug dealer during a botched robbery.

The prosecution contended the group drove to Irwin's home in broad daylight, and several shots were fired. Irwin was not hit by any of the shots.

The incident occurred hours after 36-year-old Chris “Snax” Fincik was gunned down in his home.

Two people arrested in that murder identified Joshua Stepoli as the man who shot Fincik, but no charges have been filed against him in connection with the homicide. Hairston also was identified by two people in custody as being involved in the murder. He also has not been charged in that case.

Under terms of a plea bargain, the Stepolis and Hairston pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault. They were each sentenced to 17 to 48 months in jail and one year on house arrest.

Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick ordered the men to be paroled because they have served their minimum sentences. They will spend the first year of their parole on house arrest connected to electronic monitors. The judge will permit the Stepolis to serve their first year at the same home, but they are not allowed to have visitors.

The men had been facing charges of criminal attempt to commit homicide, but those were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

Hairston remained in the Westmoreland County Prison as of late Tuesday.

Samone Stepoli rejects deal

As her brothers were being taken to the Washington County jail, Samone Stepoli was ordered to stand trial for her alleged role in the attempted murder of Irwin.

Stepoli, 22, rejected a plea bargain Tuesday that would have her serve one year on probation and six months on house arrest. Monessen police contend Samone Stepoli drove the car that took the group to the scene of the shooting.

Defense attorney Patricia Elliott said Stepoli rejected a deal that would have dismissed the more serious felony charges she faces and in return was asked to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit simple assault.

“She believes she did not do anything wrong and wants to exercise her right to a trial,” Elliott said.

Earl Pinkney, 20, of Monessen is still awaiting trial on charges in connection with the alleged attempt on Irwin.

Prior convictions

It is unclear how long the Stepolis will be held in the Washington County jail.

The brothers pleaded guilty Sept. 20, 2012, to firearms not to be carried without a license and receiving stolen property.

Emery sentenced Joshua Stepoli to two years' probation.

Terrance Stepoli was sentenced to spend 18 months participating in the county's Intermediate Punishment Program.

They were arrested April 11, 2012, by Charleroi Regional Police for possession of stolen guns.

Monessen police were alerted the day before that one of three males in a red Dodge Neon had pulled a handgun on someone in another vehicle at the Eastgate Exxon and then fled.

The vehicle was spotted by Charleroi police at 2:12 a.m. April 11, when a handgun was recovered from under the seat occupied by Terrence Stepoli, and another handgun was found in the pocket of a hooded sweatshirt worn by Joshua Stepoli.

Both guns had been reported stolen.

Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at Trib Total Media writer Rich Cholodofsky contributed to this report.

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