Hearings for 2 Derry Township homicide suspects rescheduled
Preliminary hearings for two men accused in the death of an Indiana County man, during what police described as a botched robbery, were rescheduled on Friday after one requested an interpreter.
Jesus Santiago, 42, of Quarry Road, Derry Township, told District Judge Mark Bilik at the beginning of his hearing that he was having a hard time grasping the proceeding.
“You guys talking professionally is hard for me to understand,” Santiago said through a thick accent.
Bilik continued hearings for Santiago and Ronell Lamar Moses Jr., 20, of Hamilton Drive, Penn Hills, upon Santiago's request for an interpreter.
Two other suspects — Tiffany A. Blattenberger, 22, of Quarry Road, Derry Township, and Danielle Leigh Clawson, 24, of West Wheatfield Township, Indiana County — waived their rights to preliminary hearings.
Moses is accused of fatally shooting Michael Matthew Volk, 24, on Dec. 29 after Volk, Blattenberger, Santiago and Clawson allegedly conspired to rob Moses of drugs and money. Moses then allegedly held Blattenberger, Santiago and Clawson at gunpoint until a getaway vehicle arrived.
Moses had been staying at the Derry Township home of Blattenberger and Santiago allegedly to distribute drugs in the area. The couple's two toddler-aged children were at home during the incident and are now staying with relatives.
About 30 friends and family members of the defendants and victim crammed into a waiting area at Bilik's office. Only a few were permitted into the courtroom because of limited space.
At the start of the hearing, Santiago questioned why he was being represented by court-appointed attorney William Gallishen Sr.
“He don't know nothing,” Santiago told Bilik. “I'm here, like, lost.”
Gallishen told Bilik he spoke with Santiago three times prior to Friday's hearing and the defendant said he “may need an interpreter.”
A new date had not been scheduled Friday.
Clawson drove Volk, her boyfriend, to the Quarry Road home on Dec. 29, where he planned to rob Moses, who was originally identified by witnesses only as “Mitch,” according to police.
Volk met up with Santiago and both went inside.
Clawson left the residence with Blattenberger and they returned a short time later to find Volk lying dead inside of gunshot wounds to the head and stomach, according to police. Santiago told police that “Mitch” — who the group had just met — killed Volk.
Police identified “Mitch” as Moses after disseminating a surveillance photo taken at the Wal-Mart near Blairsville the night prior, when he and Volk walked together through the store. He turned himself in to police after a warrant was issued.
Clawson, Blattenberger and Santiago allegedly were held inside the mobile home at gunpoint by Moses, who demanded a cellphone. Moses got a ride and fled with the phone and a silver handgun, police allege.
The suspects are being held in the Westmoreland County jail without bail. Blattenberger, Clawson and Santiago are charged with homicide, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery because they plotted the robbery that led to Volk's death, police said.
Moses faces charges of homicide, kidnapping, unlawful possession of a firearm and terroristic threats.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 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.
- Identities of theft suspects sought by Penn Township and state police
- Grant program targets 7 Westmoreland County towns, including Greensburg, for revitalization
- Girl, 8, hit by truck in North Irwin, breaks leg
- Westmoreland judge: Contact with advocacy group won’t hamper fairness in drug trial
- Contract talks to start this week for prison union in Westmoreland
- 1 injured in Mt. Pleasant Twp. accident
- Latrobe-Unity parks department seeks grant; revamp to cost $112K
- At 87, Rostraver man still entertaining polka fans
- Latrobe school directors won’t forgive bill for WCCC land
- Machine operator avoids serious injuries in accident in North Huntingdon
- Mt. Pleasant Scout creates drop box for flag disposal