Texan claims self-defense in slashings at Connellsville bar
A Texas man was defending himself from an angry crowd when he stabbed two people during a bar fight in Fayette County, according to his attorney.
Marcus Claude Moreau, 41, a pipeline welder from Channelview who was in Fayette County to work in the gas industry, is charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of simple assault for the incident last March 10 in Riser's Pub in Connellsville Township. His trial began Thursday before Judge Nancy Vernon.
Moreau's attorney, Brent Peck of Uniontown, told jurors that Moreau, who is black, was in the bar with a Hispanic couple when they became involved in a disagreement with white patrons over a stray dart.
“This almost sounds like a bad joke,” Peck said. “A black guy and a Mexican walk into a bar in Connellsville. Unfortunately, there is no punch line.”
The fight began over a dart that landed under a table where Moreau and the Hispanic couple were seated, according to a Connellsville man who was in the bar that night. Michael Andrew Schmidt testified the Hispanic male would not let Schmidt retrieve the dart, so he moved a chair, grabbed the dart and walked away.
“Next thing you know, I wake up in a puddle of blood,” Schmidt testified. William Sirianni of Connellsville testified the Hispanic man punched Schmidt in the nose, knocking him unconscious.
Frank Hart of Connellsville testified he was drinking beer at the bar when he saw Schmidt on the floor. He said he verbally confronted the Hispanic man after another patron pointed the man out as the aggressor.
Hart said the Hispanic male “bum rushed” him, so he tried to tackle the man but ended up on the floor, on all fours. He said other patrons kicked and shoved at him as he was on the floor.
Hart did not notice he had been stabbed until he stood up and tried to walk, he told jurors.
Bartender Tanya Calhoun of Connellsville testified she heard a loud thump, turned and saw Schmidt “out cold” on the floor. She testified she then saw a man punching Hart, so she grabbed the man's arm to try to stop him.
She said she and several others were thrown to the floor. She did not notice her hand had been slashed, she testified, until she had the disc jockey turn on the lights.
“I seen blood dripping off my arm,” Calhoun testified. “I looked at my right hand, and I thought my finger was cut off.”
Sirianni testified he tried to stop Moreau and the Hispanic man from leaving because police had been called, but the two left in a truck. He said other patrons followed the men outside and were striking at the vehicle in an attempt to stop them.
Calhoun was treated in Highlands Hospital in Connellsville and later had surgery on her hand. Hart was taken by medical helicopter to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, where he was hospitalized for one day.
Trooper James Pierce testified he identified Moreau as one of the men because he left a credit card with the bartender to begin a tab when he first entered the bar.
Assistant District Attorney Doug Sepic showed jurors footage of the fight taken from video surveillance cameras. Assistant District Attorney Meghann Mikluscak said the video shows Moreau swinging at Hart in a stabbing motion.
Testimony is to resume Friday morning. Moreau is free on $100,000 bail.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
- Norwin band director is finding lots of success in return to his alma mater
- Project to tear down former Jeannette District Memorial Hospital on schedule, Excela says
- Jeannette company’s miniature steam engines coveted for decades
- Westmoreland County furloughs weights and measurements director
- Police gather in Ligonier for Perryopolis officer’s funeral
- Demolition project at Oliver’s Pourhouse in Greensburg moves ahead
- Hempfield leaders kill zoning request for townhomes
- Plenty of ‘pain’ to share, as Westmoreland County budget OK’d with $8M in cuts
- Home of LeNature’s exec up for sale
- Unity name excised from Latrobe parks, recreation
- Hempfield man accused of threats against troopers