Cop shooting suspect ordered to stand trial

| Friday, April 22, 2011

A Rankin man faces a trial after charges against him were held for court in connection with the shooting of a Clairton officer during a violent home invasion along Miller Avenue.

Marcus Andrejco, 18, remains in the Allegheny County Jail on $500,000 straight bond after Glassport Magisterial District Judge Armand A. Martin Thursday ordered him to trial on charges of criminal attempted homicide, criminal conspiracy, assault of a law enforcement officer, indecent assault, burglary, two counts of unlawful restraint, four counts of robbery, four counts of recklessly endangering another person and four counts of aggravated assault.

Charges stem from an incident April 4 around 10:45 p.m. at 858 Miller Ave. Officer James Kuzak was shot in the forearm, side and shoulder just above his bulletproof vest while responding to the call. Kuzak is recovering at UPMC Mercy.

Chief trial deputy Dan Fitzsimmons successfully added charges of criminal attempt rape and impersonating a public servant against Andrejco. Both charges also were held for court.

One of the alleged victims — a woman and mother of two — along with Clairton officers Jonathan Steiner and Matthew McDanel and Allegheny County Police detective Timothy Langan, testified at Thursday`s hearing.

The woman said she heard a noise and her fiancé went to check it out.

They later heard banging at the door and someone identified themselves as being FBI, she said.

Two men, one with short hair and the other with long hair, were quickly identified as not being with the FBI, and entered the house, each brandishing a handgun in search of drugs and money, the woman said.

She identified the suspect with the long hair as Andrejco, who was sitting in the courtroom wearing handcuffs and a red Allegheny County Jail jumpsuit.

The woman said during the ordeal Andrejco said he would not kill her because she was too cute, put his lips on her face and neck area, pulled her pants down and slapped her buttocks twice.

The short-haired suspect constantly demanded money and struck the victim`s fiancé twice with a handgun, according to testimony.

The alleged victim testified the short-haired man also put a gun in the her mouth and pointed it at a daughter, asking the fiancé, 'Do you love her?'

The woman said she showed one of the suspects where some money was in an upstairs bedroom, and was ordered to tell police after they arrived that everything was fine.

The woman testified that Andrejco was not the one who fired on Kuzak.

Langan testified Andrejco gave a taped confession after being questioned for several hours.

Andrejco`s private attorney Angela Carsia tried to question the alleged victim`s credibility. She asked how the victim could be sure of who was involved in the incident, considering she wrongly identified other suspects.

Myles Hutchinson, 21, of McKeesport, and Travis Evans, 18, of Wilkinsburg, were picked out of a photo array. Both were arrested, charged and later released from jail with charges dropped.

Fitzsimmons objected to the question as the woman was explaining how she was remembering things as the days went on since the incident.

The alleged victim testified Andrejco was wearing thin nylons covering part of his face.

Evans was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing Thursday morning. County police dropped the charges that day and continue to search for a second suspect.

Both Clairton officers testified they were originally dispatched to 860 Miller Ave. for a disturbance.

McDanel said he was told by residents at that address the problem was next door in the duplex, and Kuzak went to the rear of the structure while Steiner was at the front.

Steiner said officers identified themselves as Clairton police, and Kuzak was shot by someone fleeing out the back door of 858 Miller Ave. McDanel made the call of 'officer down' and other departments responded, according to testimony.

Kuzak was found shot on the back porch, was unresponsive, and was transported to the hospital by ambulance, officers said.

The woman testified the suspect with short hair was by the back door and said, 'I`m going to have to shoot my way out.'

Andrejco`s family members, including stepsister Angel Tinsley, said outside the courthouse after the hearing that the man was innocent and misidentified.

Family members said he was home on the computer and watching 'Dancing With the Stars.'

Andrejco will be formally arraigned June 9 at 9 a.m. at Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

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