The first-degree murder conviction of an Allegheny County man was upheld Wednesday after a Westmoreland County judge said she did not make erroneous rulings during his seven-day trial in July.
Anthony L. McWhite, 21, of Crafton, contended Judge Debra Pezze improperly allowed jurors to see two autopsy photographs and incorrectly ruled on challenges that barred the defense from questioning certain witnesses.
McWhite was convicted for the April 3, 2010, shooting death of Shawntez Weems on Constitution Boulevard in New Kensington.
The prosecution contended McWhite killed Weems as revenge for a pistol-whipping he inflicted on the defendant in 2008.
According to trial testimony, McWhite hid in the shadow of a church and waited for Weems to emerge to take a short walk for a drug sale. McWhite followed Weems and then headed him off before firing nine shots from a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol. One shot hit Weems in the back.
McWhite is serving a life prison sentence.
The defense contended that McWhite should receive a new trial because of errors Pezze made during the trial.
McWhite's lawyers argued the autopsy photographs were prejudicial, but Pezze ruled the pictures were admissible because they assisted forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht.
“The use of these photos to illustrate his complex testimony assisted the jury in understanding his explanation and in determining the degree of guilt,” Pezze wrote.
Pezze said defense objections to her rulings regarding the questioning of witnesses were not substantiated.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.