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Mt. Pleasant teen faces prison in self-defense shooting of Fayette man

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Saturday, July 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Although a Westmoreland County jury on Friday sided with a Mt. Pleasant teenager's claim that he shot a Fayette County man in self-defense, the teen still faces a mandatory prison term of five years.

Jurors found Keenan D. Frye, 19, not guilty of attempted homicide, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault in the shooting of Josh Grimm, 28, of Everson on Oct. 17 along South Silver Street in Mt. Pleasant.

But jurors convicted Frye of illegal possession of a firearm, a count that carries a mandatory five-year sentence. In addition, the jury convicted Frye of three drug-related charges.

Grimm had set up a late-evening meeting with Frye, via text messages, to allegedly purchase marijuana, according to testimony in the three-day trial.

Witnesses testified that after Frye arrived, Grimm jumped Frye, knocked him to the ground and sprayed him with Mace as Grimm tried to rob Frye of marijuana and money.

Frye pulled a handgun out of a book bag he was carrying and fired four shots, striking Grimm's shoulder and left side.

“This is a classic case of self-defense,” defense attorney Emily Smarto told jurors in a closing argument. “The victim provoked the use of force. …”

Smarto said that trial testimony from Grimm and two of his friends indicated a planned attack against Frye, with Grimm's “posse hiding in the bushes, watching nearby.”

Jurors dismissed Smarto's contention that Grimm hid the gun in the vicinity of the planned ambush.

Assistant District Attorney Jacquelyn Knupp conceded the shooting was a difficult case to prosecute because “they both came with dirty hands” and numerous witnesses testified Grimm threw the first punch.

“This case is the Commonwealth versus Keenan Frye, not Josh Grimm versus Keenan Frye,” Knupp said.

She dismissed Smarto's argument that Grimm stashed the book bag with the gun at the scene before the confrontation.

“Trooper Brian Pollock testified that when he picked Keenan Frye up later, the gun was ready to go again … it was fully loaded … it shows that he's mentally prepared to shoot again,” Knupp said.

Police found the gun in a book bag that contained more than an ounce of marijuana, separately packaged.

Knupp said Frye was carrying the gun “to protect the drugs he was selling and his reputation on the street.”

After the verdict, Frye's mother, Cindy Myers of Mt. Pleasant, said the family remains devastated.

Lester Frye said his son was attempting to protect himself.

“It's ironic the victims who testified played out their roles of victims,” although Keenan Frye was the victim of an attempted robbery, Lester Frye said.

Trial Judge Rita Hathaway said that a sentencing hearing will be scheduled within 90 days.

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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