4 held for trial in shooting death of 10-year-old Washington County girl
Inside a heavily guarded courtroom, a Washington County judge on Wednesday listened to how a botched robbery ended with the shooting death of a 10-year-old girl and ordered all four defendants — including a distant cousin of the victim — to stand trial.
Douglas Cochran Jr., 18, Anthian Goehring, 28, Malik Thomas, 20, and Richard White, 18, all of Washington, are charged with homicide, robbery, burglary, conspiracy and related counts in the March 31 death of Taniyah Thomas in her family's apartment on West Chestnut Street, near downtown Washington. Malik and Taniyah Thomas were related.
“Malik comes from a good family. This is not how he was raised to be,” said his attorney, Michael DeRiso. “Not in a million years was this something he planned to happen.”
Washington police Lt. Dan Stanek testified in the full courtroom that the defendants' names surfaced within days of the shooting.
“It's a small city,” Stanek said.
More than a dozen sheriff's deputies and police officers wore bulletproof vests inside and outside the courtroom, double-checking bags and using a metal-detecting wand on anyone who entered. Officials said the procedures were precautionary because of the case's circumstances.
Investigators first honed in on Goehring, who offered a string of false alibis, Stanek said.
Goehring nervously shook his leg as he sat next to his co-defendants, each dressed in orange jail jumpsuits. He wiped tears with a tissue clutched in his cuffed hands.
None of the defendants spoke during the nearly two-hour hearing except for Cochran, who told Magistrate Ethan Ward that he would proceed without an attorney after failing to retain one.
Stanek and Officer Dan Grossman, one of the first people to arrive at the scene, testified that a dozen shots were fired into the apartment's wooden door.
Several people cried audibly in the courtroom as Coroner Tim Warco testified that a bullet struck Taniyah in the back of the head, which caused her death. Another gunshot wound to her shoulder would not have killed her, he said.
According to Stanek, the four defendants left the Lincoln Terrace housing project sometime after 3 a.m. March 31 in a rented 2014 Chevrolet Malibu and intended to get something to eat before going to a Red Roof Inn near Interstate 70.
White drove because he was the only one with a driver's license, Stanek said. Stanek said the defendants told investigators that the conversation turned to robbing Robert Lester Jr., 26, who lived in the apartment with Shantye Brown, 34; their 10-month-old baby; and Taniyah, who was in fourth grade.
The four parked outside a nearby business, and Goehring removed two handguns from the glove compartment before he and Cochran exited the car, Stanek said.
The two kicked in an outside door to the apartment building, climbed a flight of stairs and fired rounds into the door with .357- and .38-caliber handguns.
Goehring told police he fired the .357. Six bullets from that weapon were recovered from around the doorknob. Several bullets believed to have been fired through the center of the door from the .38 were recovered from inside the apartment, including Taniyah's room, Stanek said.
Goehring and Cochran ran back to the car without entering the apartment, and they all drove away with Goehring at the wheel, Stanek said. Thomas later told detectives he ditched the firearms over a hillside at the hotel, though the weapons have not been recovered.
“Whatever their intention was, it was not to kill anyone,” said Public Defender Glenn Alterio, who represents Goehring. “Mr. Goehring is not an individual I would say is heartless.”
Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Torn thumb ligament puts Josh Harrison on DL
- Fake urine merchant sentenced to probation
- Accident closes Route 22 in Murrysville
- McCandless mom suspected of drowning sons found competent to stand trial
- In 2005, Cosby said he got drugs to give women for sex
- Monday - July 6, 2015
- Pirates get journeyman Ishikawa off waivers; outfielder Marte injured
- Point Park University cutting 32 employees in reorganization
- PennDOT team decides what spells trouble on vehicle license plates
- Children’s Hospital’s top doctor leaving for Washington University School of Medicine
- Fayette County man injured in WV fireworks mishap