3 men guilty in killing of W&J football player
Three men pleaded guilty Tuesday in the beating death of star Washington & Jefferson College football player Tim McNerney, sparing his family the pain of reliving what happened during a trial.
Adam Hankins, 24, of Washington, Eric Dante Wells, 25, of Pittsburgh, and Troy Simmons, 24, of East Pittsburgh each pleaded guilty to robbery and a general homicide charge before jury selection.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Edward Borkowski, serving as a visiting judge, found them guilty of third-degree homicide in the October 2012 death of McNerney, 21, a Butler County native and senior running back at W&J.
McNerney's family attended the hearing at the Washington County Courthouse but did not speak afterward. They could not be reached later for comment.
“Obviously, they've been through so much,” said District Attorney Gene Vittone, who spoke with the family and answered their questions following the hearing.
A pool of potential jurors waited downstairs for jury selection to begin before the defendants decided to enter pleas. The trial was to begin Monday.
Instead, Borkowski will sentence the three on Aug. 25.
“I think it was a fair resolution to this,” Vittone said. “We'll see what the judge says.”
Third-degree homicide carries a minimum sentence of six years in prison, with a maximum of 20 to 40 years, Vittone said.
Teammate and fellow student Zachary DeCicco testified last year that he and McNerney left a downtown bar on Oct. 4, 2012, to walk back to campus. Three men confronted them, demanding a cellphone. A verbal spat turned physical and a fight ensued. DeCicco was able to run away back to campus and initially believed McNerney had done the same.
But McNerney fell and hit his head against the ground after being punched. Police found his body in the parking lot of a nearby automobile repair shop. An autopsy revealed he died from a subdural hematoma and brain hemorrhage.
Investigators used GPS to track McNerney's iPhone to the defendants, prosecutors said.
McNerney was a star running back at Butler's Knoch High School, where he amassed more than 2,800 yards and earned a spot on The Associated Press Class AAA first-team. In two-plus seasons as a starter at W&J, McNerney rushed for 2,339 yards.
The guily pleas should bring some closure for McNerney's family and friends, said W&J football coach Mike Sirianni.
“But it doesn't bring Tim back to us. We'll always have that void,” said Sirianni, adding that no W&J player will wear No. 5 as long as he is coach. “As time goes by, more and more kids in our program didn't play with him.
“But we make sure they all know who Tim McNerney was.”
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.
- Steelers rookie says Sam, his former roommate, has changed
- Fire victim’s ex-boyfriend jumps from Tarentum Bridge
- Minister quick to share time, talents, love
- Letters won’t be used as evidence in North Union man’s homicide trial
- Rossi: Buying trust is a must for Pirates
- Steelers aim to create more turnovers this year with speedier defense
- Latrobe woman charged in deadly standoff claims coercion
- Ex-cop from Irwin gets jail for drug sales while posing as officer
- Separate trials sought in fatal Murrysville DUI
- Sewickley Township fraud case reopens old wound for New Stanton woman
- West Mifflin Legion falls into elimination bracket