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Plea deal proposed in stabbing death of Uniontown woman

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Fayette County man would serve a minimum of 20 years in jail if a judge approves a tentative plea deal reached on Tuesday for the stabbing death of a Uniontown woman.

Darius “Boo” Samuel, 22, of Uniontown was charged with homicide when a birthday party turned violent on Feb. 22 in a Fairchance bar, police said. He agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder.

Rashaunda Fitzgerald, 21, died in Uniontown Hospital of stab wounds in the upper chest that she suffered during the melee in the Goal Post Restaurant and Lounge on North Morgantown Road, state police at Uniontown said.

Assistant District Attorneys J.W. Eddy and Mark Mehalov said Samuel agreed to the plea offer shortly before a scheduled preliminary hearing before District Judge Randy Abraham.

Samuel will enter a general plea, and a judge will determine sentencing. The statutory minimum sentence for third-degree murder is 20 to 40 years in prison, Eddy said.

Samuel had been charged with assaulting three other Uniontown residents, all of whom suffered nonlethal stab wounds, police said.

Samuel originally had been charged with additional counts of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, simple assault and possession of a weapon. Trenton Branch, 25; Montaque Wilson, 21; and Cornell Neal, 25, were injured, state police said.

Eddy said because none of the three could be contacted. several charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment against Samuel were withdrawn.

Authorities used surveillance footage from inside and outside the Goal Post to piece together the events, District Attorney Jack Heneks previously said.

Samuel initially got into a fight with Devin Fitzgerald, the victim's brother, in the bar, police said. He then stabbed Wilson, Neal and Branch, according to a police affidavit.

Samuel waited outside the bar to again attack Devin Fitzgerald, police said. Rashaunda Fitzgerald was stabbed in the upper chest as she tried to intervene, authorities said.

“Surveillance shows Darius Lee Samuel confronting Devin Fitzgerald in front of the Goal Post Lounge, ending in Rashaunda Fitzgerald collapsing at the front door,” according to a police affidavit.

Authorities are uncertain what led to the melee.

Samuel told authorities Devin Fitzgerald assaulted him, so Samuel used his knife for protection, according to the affidavit. Samuel admitted to swinging the knife and stabbing people who were swinging at him, police said.

Fitzgerald's death was followed by a second tragedy in March, when her brother, De'Andre “DJ” Jones, 17, was one of two teenage boys killed in a South Union car crash.

Family members declined to comment at Tuesday's proceedings.

Samuel remains in Fayette County Prison, where he is being held without bond.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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