Last suspect in attempted murder in Monessen held for trial
The last of five Monessen residents accused of trying to kill a man who they believed was spreading rumors about a homicide in the city will face trial.
Antoine Hairston, 19, of Monessen was held for court by District Judge Joseph Dalfonso after a preliminary hearing on Monday on attempted homicide, attempted aggravated assault and conspiracy charges for allegedly attacking Jaisen Irwin on the afternoon of Dec. 3, hours after the murder of a Monessen man.
The other defendants, Josh Stepoli, 18; his brother Terrance Stepoli, 20; their sister, Samone Stepoli, 21; and Earl Pinkney, 19, were held for court after a hearing held last month.
Irwin, 19, said he was sitting with a friend on a ledge just outside Highland Manor smoking a Black and Mild cigar when a car driven by Samone Stepoli pulled up nearby.
Irwin testified that Terrance Stepoli got out of the car and headed toward him, calling him names and saying he was spreading rumors about the fatal shooting earlier that day of 36-year-old Chris Fincik.
“He said I'm running my mouth, acting like his brother (Josh) did it,” Irwin testified.
As Terrance Stepoli tried to slap him, Irwin noticed Hairston, Josh Stepoli, and Earl Pinkney getting out of the vehicle. All three were holding handguns, he said.
Irwin testified that Hairston and Pinkney walked toward him, and he ran through Highland Manor and to a friend's apartment.
Just as he arrived at the apartment, Irwin said he saw a red laser beam on a pillar to the left of the door.
“I ducked, and as I ducked, I heard a gunshot, and after the gunshot, as I go into the house, I hear another gunshot,” Irwin testified.
He said as he peeked through a second-floor window, he saw Hairston near a Dumpster with another man, who has not been charged. He called his mom for help, and when he looked outside again, the men were gone, Irwin said.
Defense attorney Milton Raiford called into question Irwin's credibility, asking whether there was marijuana in the cigar he and his friend were passing back and forth and whether Irwin was high on pot or prescription drugs at the time.
Irwin vehemently denied any drug use.
Raiford asked what kind of gun Irwin had.
“I didn't have no gun,” Irwin said.
Raiford questioned why Irwin did not respond when Terrance Stepoli accosted him.
“You've got a history of running your mouth and lying on people, don't you?” Raiford asked.
Dalfonso admonished Raiford.
“This is a preliminary hearing, not a trial,” he said.
Jason Snyder, who does maintenance at Highland Manor, testified that he was in his office doing paperwork when he looked at a security monitor and saw a man he later identified as Irwin running through the complex.
He said he left the office to take a better look and saw Irwin run into an apartment and two other men he did not recognize standing near a Dumpster.
Snyder said the men were bent over, catching their breath, and began looking around in every direction. He said he saw a silver or chrome object in the waistband of one of the men, but he did not see guns in their hands nor did he hear gunshots.
Police later found three handguns, including one with a laser sight, and an ammunition magazine hidden at two locations at Highland Manor.
Raiford argued that there wasn't enough evidence to hold Hairston for trial.
He said no one saw Hairston fire a gun, and there was no evidence that anyone conspired to kill Irwin.
“(Irwin) never testified he heard (anyone) saying, ‘There he is. We're going to get you. We're going to kill you,' ” Raiford said.
The attorney said there were so many people in Irwin's testimony.
“At the end of the day, we don't know who was there and who was not,” he said.
But Dalfonso held Hairston over for court and declined to reduce his bail from $100,000.
In the meantime, the two people charged with Fincik's death — Pinkney and his girlfriend, Chalsee L. Hughes, 19, of Duquesne — will face a preliminary hearing on Jan. 28.
Pinkney told police he went to Fincik's home with Josh Stepoli and Hairston to rob him.
“I was so high, I didn‘t know where I was at,” Pinkney told police. “Josh did the shooting. I heard the shots and ran home.”
Hughes told police she helped Josh Stepoli and Hairston purchase ammunition, after Stepoli said they planned to rob someone, according to court papers.
Neither Josh Stepoli nor Hairston has been charged in Fincik‘s death.
District Attorney John Peck said the Fincik murder remains under investigation.
Jennifer Reeger is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.