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Charges tossed against 5 suspects from Jeannette

| Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Onlookers expressed joy five times on Thursday as a district judge dismissed attempted homicide and robbery charges against five suspects in Jeannette.

Witnesses refused to testify against the five, leaving prosecutors with no choice.

“I believe, based on the fact that witnesses do not wish to testify, the commonwealth cannot proceed with the case,” Assistant District Attorney Wayne Gongaware told District Judge Joseph DeMarchis as a preliminary hearing for one suspect was scratched.

Some in the standing-room-only courtroom said “Amen” or “Thank you, Jesus” at the conclusion of each case.

The five defendants had been charged in a three-day string of related incidents involving guns.

Attempted homicide and related charges were dismissed against Emanuel Lee Penn, 27, of North Braddock and Jeannette residents Herbert Rollerson IV, 23, and Albert Matthew Thomas, whose age was not available. Westmoreland County detectives charged them with shooting at a South Seventh Street home at 1:35 a.m. Oct. 23.

Two men who were in the home, Mariell A. McGowan, 23, and Joseph Raymond Good Jr., 28, refused to testify at preliminary hearings scheduled Thursday for the three men. McGowan had been struck by a bullet in the right shoulder, police said.

“I just don't want to,” McGowan said when asked by Gongaware why he would not take the stand.

“I didn't see anything, sir,” Good told Gongaware.

On the afternoon of Oct. 26, Good allegedly tried to shoot at Rollerson near the intersection of Clay Avenue and South Seventh Street. City police officers, who witnessed the encounter, said Good allegedly failed to disengage the handgun's safety mechanism.

Good waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Thursday and remains in the Westmoreland County Prison on $50,000 bail. He is the only defendant still facing charges.

Robbery and related charges were dismissed against McGowan and Taylor Foster, 21, of Jeannette when their alleged victim, a 21-year-old woman, declined to testify.

“I don't want to do it,” she said.

Charges filed by city police against McGowan and Foster stem from an alleged hold-up on Oct. 27 along North Second Street. Police said they made off with $125.

City Officer Justin Scalzo, who was involved in the investigations, said the outcomes were frustrating.

“The police did everything we could for all of these cases. … We did our job,” he said.

“There's victims that have the courage to go to court and put people behind bars,” Scalzo said. “There are good victims out there that testify.”

Good is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, carrying a firearm without a license, drug possession with intent to deliver, drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, simple assault and resisting arrest.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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