Winner of gun used in homicide gets 15 months in jail
A New Kensington man who won a pistol at a local gun show that was used to kill Lower Burrell police officer Derek Kotecki will serve at least 15 months in jail.
Meryl E. Smith III, 34, was sentenced on Thursday on three firearms offenses. He pleaded guilty to the charges in September.
Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec sentenced Smith to serve 15 to 30 months.
Police said it was Smith who won the weapon used by Charles Post on Oct. 12, 2011, to shoot Kotecki.
The officer had spotted Post near a Dairy Queen restaurant. Post had been wanted in connection with a shooting in the Clarion Hotel parking lot in New Kensington about 10 days earlier.
As Kotecki approached the SUV parked outside the Dairy Queen, Post fired numerous times through a closed window, killing Kotecki. Post killed himself during a shootout with other officers.
Assistant District Attorney Leo Ciaramitaro said Smith was at the start of a chain of events that ultimately led to Post having possession of the gun.
“While we don't blame Mr. Smith for the death of officer Kotecki, we seek to enforce the gun laws of the state,” Ciaramitaro said.
Investigators said Smith held the winning ticket for the .40-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol at a gun show held at the Richland Township Volunteer Fire Department in 2010.
Smith did not have identification with him at that time, so he gave the ticket to another man, Robert Zentner, 57. Zentner claimed the gun and gave it to Smith but did not formally transfer ownership of the weapon.
Police said Smith eventually gave the gun to a third man, Nevin Lawson. Police believe James A. Ameris, 43, of New Kensington, either purchased or stole the gun from Lawson. Charges are pending against Ameris and Lawson.
Zentner pleaded guilty to weapons offenses last year and was sentenced to serve six to 23 months in jail.
That sentence was to start last week, but Zentner was in court on Thursday to ask Blahovec to reconsider the penalty.
Ciaramitaro said Blahovec refused to reduce Zentner's sentence but allowed him to remain free on bail for the next month while he considers whether to file an appeal.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 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.
- North Huntingdon church shaken by youth pastor’s child porn rap
- East Huntingdon man, 91, finds 2nd career as a woodworker
- Westmoreland group gets pet oxygen masks for area fire departments
- Scottdale appoints borough solicitor
- Seat in 32nd District deemed crucial for Pennsylvania Senate control
- Derry man jailed in scuffle with police
- Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau picks Ohiopyle restaurateur for entrepreneur of year
- Greensburg merchants offer soup for a charitable Claus
- Hempfield Hunt Club gets waiver to speed construction in New Stanton
- Westmoreland County may relax free ride-share rules
- Latrobe police officer sues councilman, city for slander