Trial in limbo 2 years after crash that killed Fawn woman
By Jodi Weigand and Chuck Biedka
Published: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, 1:26 a.m.
FAWN — Two years after her friend died in a fatal motorcycle crash, Dara Lesser wonders why the man accused in the death still hasn't gone to trial.
Jessica Marie Lojak, of Fawn was a passenger on a motorcycle operated by off-duty Pittsburgh Patrolman Adam M. Lewis that crashed early Sept. 26, 2010. The crash occurred on Mifflin Road in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lincoln Place, which borders West Mifflin.
Lojak was 28 and was to be a bridesmaid for Lewis' wedding two weeks later.
But the licensed practical nurse died hours later in UPMC Presbyterian hospital, Pittsburgh.
Lesser, who attended nursing school with Lojak, asks why there have been so many delays.
“It's been two years. I mean I understand you're not going to get to trial the next week if something happens,” said Lesser, 42, of Penn Hills. “It just keeps getting put off, and I sincerely believe that it's because of Adam's job.
“I would think if it would be someone like myself, and I had a 0.112 (percent) blood-alcohol level, it certainly wouldn't have been two years of me just living my life,” Lesser said.
Some homicide cases proceed quicker than others. For instance, a Nov. 10, 2010, case involving the death of a wildlife conservation officer near Gettysburg only went to trial this week. Delays occur for any number of reasons.
Jessica's parents, Laura and Edward Lojak, didn't return calls for comment.
Lesser said a prosecutor asked the Lojak family not to talk about the case.
“It's heartbreaking,” Lesser said.
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said the bureau fired Lewis on March 1, 2011.
According to court records, on Feb. 28, 2011, Lewis waived homicide by vehicle while under the influence and 10 other charges.
He was scheduled to have a jury trial on Sept. 19, 2011. But when Lewis requested a non-jury trial, the case was transferred to another judge and rescheduled for about six months later, to March 12, 2012.
The case was delayed to June 11, and again to Monday.
But Lesser said Jessica's mother received a letter saying that trial won't begin Monday. Instead, that will be the day that a new trial date is set.
Mike Manko, spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., would only confirm that there is a delay in the case. He would not discuss a pending case further.
William Difenderfer, who represents Lewis, said a crucial witness isn't available for Monday. Difenderfer said the trial date “may not be until January.'
“The delays haven't been excessive,” Difenderfer said. “It's progressing about as fast as it can, and the judge wants a trial date.”
Difenderfer said he isn't surprised that the dead woman's mother allegedly has been asked by a prosecutor not to talk to reporters about the case or her daughter.
“It's not unusual,” he said.Lesser said Jessica's death has been devastating.
She said Lojak's mother “just feels like she can't go on,” Lesser said. “She is just beaten down.”
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.
- Peduto takes down Pittsburgh’s Redd Up crew
- Curtain call: Final wintry blast due to hit Western Pa.
- Upper St. Clair woman’s death at Drexel probed as possible meningitis
- Fayette road crews turn focus to paving, pothole repairs
- Job cuts at AGH part of ‘strategic’ process
- Washington County judge: Evidence against him illegally obtained
- Redistricting spurs faceoff for Democratic state Reps. Molchany, Readshaw
- Fox Chapel Area superintendent seeks rapport with students
- Donor name to be stripped from Penn Hills library
- House fire in Carnegie, no injuries reported
- Newsmaker: Christine Jordanoff