Father, son held for court in 2011 Connellsville murder

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 5:21 p.m.

A father and son charged in the murder of a Connellsville man in 2011 were bound over for trial in Fayette County Court on Thursday.

Robert Leroy Daniels Jr., 42, and his son, Robert Leroy Daniels III, 18, both of 233B E. Apple St., were charged in the murder of David Gida, 56, of Connellsville, in June 2011 in his apartment on South Pittsburgh Street.

Both men pleaded not guilty, according to their attorneys, William and Lea Bickerton of Pittsburgh.

District Judge Ronald Haggerty Jr. held the father and son for court on Thursday following a preliminary hearing.

One charge of criminal conspiracy and one charge of tampering with evidence were added to the charges of criminal homicide, robbery, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property for Robert Daniels Jr. One charge of criminal conspiracy was added to criminal homicide, robbery, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property already filed against Robert Leroy Daniels III.

Connellsville police Cpl. John James was the first officer on the scene in June after Gida's body was discovered. James testified Thursday he entered Gida's apartment around noon after being flagged down by Justin Gida, son of the victim.

James said he found the victim, who had partially fallen out of a chair, lying on his right side with blood pooled around the body. He said there was a puncture wound on the victim's neck.

Fayette County Assistant District Attorney Mark Brooks submitted the autopsy report by forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, indicating the cause of death was homicide.

According to the autopsy report, Gida was stabbed twice in the neck.

Connellsville Sgt. Ryan Reese testified Robert Daniels Jr., the father who was identified by his son as the one who stabbed Gida, confessed after being shown a written statement by his son about how the victim was stabbed.

According to Connellsville police, the younger Daniels said he held the victim's head while his father stabbed Gida. After Gida brought his hand up to the wound, the older Daniels then stabbed Gida again through the victim's hand.

In the statements to police, the younger Daniels said his father took a gold chain, a silver ring and a baseball before doing some cleaning up of the scene.

The older Daniels, in his statements, said he only took the chain, which he threw away after leaving the apartment. He said he had gone to the apartment after taking a Valium and drinking a beer at a local bar.

Gida's family members later found an autographed baseball they thought had been stolen. Another baseball was still missing.

Reese said both victims had been made aware of their rights numerous times.

The men were given polygraph tests by state police in Uniontown.

Lea Bickerton asked Reese several times about the mental state of Robert Leroy Daniels III. She questioned if Reese knew that her client was allegedly not mentally competent.

Reese said there were no indications that Robert Leroy Daniels III did not understand.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kpolacek@tribweb.com or 724-626-3538.

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