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Jeannette shooting victim says he slapped gun away

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A former Trafford man told a Westmoreland County jury Tuesday that he repeatedly “slapped” away a handgun pointed in his face by a Jeannette man he was visiting early on the morning of Sept. 1.

Victor Bailey, 29, testified that once he got an opportunity, he and an acquaintance, Dante Wiley Jr., 29, of Jeannette, fled the Division Street apartment of Demarco “Loyal” Jackson, 25, about 3:30 that morning.

Bailey said he initially thought he had tripped on Jackson's front stairs, got up and continued running, but realized Jackson had shot him in the back. He collapsed on nearby Allison Street.

Bailey indicated to jurors that he is puzzled about why Jackson suddenly turned violent.

“I thought we were cool. Loyal (Jackson's nickname) was one of my boys,” Bailey testified.

Jackson is on trial for two counts of robbery, and single counts of aggravated assault, conspiracy, illegally possessing a firearm, possession of heroin and possession with intent to deliver heroin.

A former resident of Pittsburgh and Georgia, Jackson moved to Jeannette last year.

His attorney, Jim Fox of Greensburg, claimed during his opening statement that it was Wiley, whom Jackson did not know, who pulled out the gun and started the confrontation. He told jurors that Wiley intended to rob Jackson.

As the pair struggled for control of the gun, it accidentally fired, striking Bailey in the back, Fox said.

“People usually go to another person's residence if they are intending to rob them. Why would anyone invite someone over to his own house to rob them? It doesn't make sense,” Fox said.

If Wiley had been a victim of robbery, Fox said, why did it take him five days after the shooting to come forward to speak with police.

Fox said Jackson and his live-in girlfriend, Courtney Petty, readily admitted to police that Jackson kept between 75 and 100 stamp bags of heroin in a safe that authorities then confiscated.

District Attorney John Peck said evidence from numerous witnesses and evidence collected at the scene will show that Jackson intended to rob Wiley and Bailey.

Peck said the .45-caliber handgun used to shoot Bailey was never recovered.

Peck said Jackson saw Bailey buying drinks earlier at Punch and Juniors Bar, indicating Bailey had a lot of money. Jackson called Bailey a few hours later, inviting him to stop at his apartment to visit.

He said telephone records show that Jackson made the call.

Jeannette police Officer Bryan DeFelice testified that he observed Bailey “lying on his side in a pile of blood” when he arrived about 3:35 a.m. DeFelice said he repeatedly asked Bailey who shot him, but Bailey could not speak.

He was taken by medical helicopter to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and had to undergo months of rehabilitation to learn to walk again.

Bailey testified under questioning by Peck that he has had several surgeries and still feels the impact of nerve damage from the gunshot wound.

Bailey pointed toward DeFelice in the courtroom during his testimony, telling jurors that the third-year Jeannette officer saved his life by keeping him alert until medics arrived.

“Him slapping me in the face, telling me to stay awake ... that's probably what saved me,” Bailey said.

The trial will continue today before Judge Al Bell.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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