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Separate trials ordered in Monessen killing

| Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Monessen man accused of murder during a robbery attempt in late 2012 will have a separate trial from the woman police said purchased the bullets used.

Westmoreland County Judge Al Bell ruled on Thursday that it would be prejudicial for jurors to hear statements made to police by Chalsee Hughes, 19, that linked Earl Pinkney to the Dec. 3, 2012, shooting of Chris “Snaxx” Fincik in Monessen.

Fincik, 36, was shot in the chest, abdomen and right arm. His body was discovered outside his home, where police found heroin, cocaine and more than $3,200.

Hughes of Duquesne is charged with homicide. Police contend that a day before the shooting, she purchased the bullets in a Wal-Mart, according to court records.

Hughes told police she knew that Pinkney and two other men intended to use the bullets to commit a robbery, court records show.

Bell said evidence indicates that Hughes' statements to the police came after an alleged conspiracy and crime.

“If in fact that is true, then Ms. Hughes' statements could not be used against Mr. Pinkney at trial,” Bell wrote.

But the judge found there was sufficient evidence for Pinkney's case to go to trial. Bell ruled that evidence suggested Pinkney had access to an AK-47, a gun similar to the one used to kill Fincik, and that he told police he was present with two other men when the fatal shots were fired.

Bell determined that Pinkney's confession to police can be used against him at trial.

According to court records, Pinkney initially denied any involvement in the shooting. But after speaking with his father, he told police he was there when Fincik was killed but was under the influence of drugs at the time and didn't remember details of the shooting.

After his arrest on another charge, Pinkney told police he saw another man shoot Fincik and that he ran home after hearing the shots.

Murder charges have been filed only against Pinkney and Hughes.

Dates for their trials have not been scheduled.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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