Uniontown man ruled competent to be tried in Connellsville woman's beating death
A Fayette County man facing the death penalty in the brutal beating death of a Connellsville woman is competent to stand trial and will be tried separately from his co-defendant, Judge Nancy Vernon ruled on Friday.
A public defender for Paul Jerome Bannasch, 24, of Uniontown requested the competency exam in October by an expert from Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland County.
The evaluation results were entered into evidence under seal during a brief pretrial motion hearing in response to several requests filed by the defense late last year.
Bannasch and Craig Allen Rugg, 25, of Connellsville face homicide and related charges in the June 22 slaying of Margaret “Peggy Sue” Kriek, 52.
Witnesses told police that the three were drinking in a Connellsville bar and later were seen near the Amtrak station in the city, according to court documents. Police allege that the suspects beat Kriek, strangled her and dumped her body into the Youghiogheny River.
She had blunt-force trauma injuries to the head and body, a rib fracture, a broken neck and lacerations and abrasions to her heels, legs, torso and arms, police said.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Rugg as well.
Search warrants and inventory seized during the investigation of Kriek's death were entered into evidence, as well as transcripts from a joint preliminary hearing for the co-defendants and Bannasch's statement to police.
Public defender Jeffrey Whiteko asked that Vernon use those documents to decide his challenge to the validity of the search warrants.
Whiteko is seeking the suppression of Bannasch's statements to police and wants to block evidence from being presented at trial. Testimony on those matters is scheduled for May 19.
Charges against the men include sexual assault, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
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.
- Governor signs death warrant for convicted Fayette killer
- Vandergrift church to host hunter breakfast
- Man faces multiple charges after chase in Uniontown
- Fayette County Crime Victims Center fundraising house tour returns after break
- Geibel junior’s Eagle Scout project benefits parishioners
- Daily Courier accepting gifts for Holiday Gift Club
- Hearing on plans for Dunbar Township resort off until January
- Christmas in the Park takes place Saturday in Connellsville
- Connellsville woman robbed at old ice rink, she says
- Fire hits Dunbar Township trucking business
- Connellsville-area kids encouraged to decorate city’s Christmas tree with handmade ornaments