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 email@example.com.
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.
- Hempfield man receives long-overdue Bronze Star for World War II service
- Charges advance for men accused in police scuffle at Fort Ligonier Days
- Arnold man’s molestation conviction upheld
- Longtime Greensburg District Judge Albert will seek fifth term
- Endowment of $3.49B makes University of Pittsburgh 25th richest in U.S.
- Suspect in West Newton burglary sought; alleged accomplice arrested
- Braddock man held for trial in Jeannette assault, robbery
- 3 injured in 2-vehicle accident on Arona Road in Hempfield
- Rostraver Democrat aims for 1 of 3 open spots on Westmoreland County bench
- Woman pays $178 fine for Westmoreland courthouse conduct
- Former Steelers LB Haggans to do time in Westmoreland jail