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Prosecutors lack evidence in Derry Township murder case, lawyer says

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 8:25 p.m.

The lawyer for a Derry Township man accused along with his girlfriend and two others of killing another man last year during a botched robbery said there is no evidence to substantiate the charges.

Attorney Bill Gallishen in court documents filed on Wednesday contended that prosecutors don't have enough evidence to prove Jesus Santiago, 42, was part of the Dec. 29 slaying of Michael Volk, 24.

Gallishen said prosecutors lack evidence that Santiago and his co-defendants attempted to rob Ronell Lamar Moses, who is accused of firing the shots that killed Volk, an alleged accomplice in the would-be robbery.

Police contend Danielle Leigh Clawson, 23, of West Wheatfield, Indiana County, drove Volk, her boyfriend, to Santiago's home, where he planned to rob Moses.

According to police, Santiago met Volk outside the home and Clawson left the residence with Santiago's girlfriend, Tiffany A. Blattenberger, 23, of Derry. They later returned and found Volk dead inside, police said.

Police said Clawson, Blattenberger and Santiago were held inside the mobile home at gunpoint by Moses, who demanded a cellphone and called someone for a ride.

The prosecution charged Santiago, Blattenberger and Clawson with first-degree murder and second-degree murder. According to testimony from a preliminary hearing in March, witnesses said Volk was shot by Moses.

Moses, 21, of Penn Hills faces a charge of first-degree murder and has claimed he shot Volk in self-defense.

“The evidence as presented does not show that the defendant either killed the victim or ... (acted) as an accomplice or conspirator in the perpetration of the homicide,” Gallishen wrote.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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