Man accused of owning gun used to kill Burrell officer made deal to avoid prosecution, attorney says
A Westmoreland County judge will rule at a later date whether statements given to police by a man accused of owning the firearm used to kill a Lower Burrell police officer were illegally obtained.
Judge John E. Blahovec heard additional testimony on Friday in the case of James Anthony “Lutzo” Ameris III, 54, of Lower Burrell in a pretrial hearing that was continued from May.
Ameris is accused of being the last link in a chain of people who illegally possessed a gun used by Charles Post to kill K-9 Officer Derek Kotecki in October 2011. Investigators have said Ameris drove Post to a Lower Burrell Dairy Queen where Kotecki attempted to arrest Post on a warrant.
Post shot and killed himself during a shootout with officers.
On Friday, Ameris' attorney, Fred Rabner, testified he believed Ameris had struck a deal to share information about the 40-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomic pistol used to kill Kotecki with federal investigators in exchange for having no charges filed against him.
“I felt confident that there was a gentleman's agreement that we would follow the same rules,” Rabner said.
During the discussion with federal investigators, Ameris made reference to a second firearm, a 9 mm pistol.
Weeks later, charges relating to both weapons were filed by then-Westmoreland County Detective Terry Kuhns, who was present during the interview.
Kuhns testified he was not aware of any agreement made with federal investigators. Kuhns is now police chief in Frazer.
“At any point in time did you ever make assurances ... that any statements (Ameris) made in that interview would not be used in state court?” asked Assistant District Attorney Leo Ciaramitaro.
“No,” Kuhns responded.
Ameris is accused of illegally possessing the pistol used to kill Kotecki, the 9 mm pistol and a .22-caliber rifle.
Ameris has been in the Westmoreland County jail since May 2012.
Co-defense counsel Dan Joseph argued that Ameris's bond should be modified, but Ciaramitaro opposed any modification.
Blahovec ordered both parties to file briefs outlining their arguments, which he will consider in issuing his ruling.
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.
- Keystone Bakery closes Greensburg store
- Puppies’ eyes glued shut, South Huntingdon animal shelter says
- Excela, Pitt-Greensburg team on legacy videos for those in twilight of lives
- H&M to open in Westmoreland Mall
- Greensburg rally spotlights plight of homeless
- Harrold Middle School students hit new high with food drive
- Former Hempfield Area director makes guest appearance at University of Alabama
- Jeannette hires officer to replace retiring corporal
- Monessen man seeks to preserve historic building as arts center
- Hempfield safety seminar puts focus on Bakken crude