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Duquesne woman admitted to buying bullets, detective testifies in Monessen murder trial

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Chalsee Hughes told a Westmoreland County detective two days after her godfather was gunned down in Monessen that she purchased the bullets used by men she suspected in the shooting.

Detective Robert Weaver testified on Friday in the fourth day of Hughes' murder trial that she confessed to knowing that the men intended to use the ammunition she bought for a robbery.

Weaver told jurors that Hughes said her companions, Josh Stepoli and Antoine Hairston, said they wanted to purchase bullets and needed her identification to do so at the Rostraver Wal-Mart store, just three hours before the slaying.

“Josh told her he was going to ‘hit a lick,' ” Weaver testified. “She said it meant that he was going to rob somebody. This was in the car before they went to Wal-Mart.”

Prosecutors contend Hughes, 21, of Duquesne is an accomplice in the Dec. 3, 2012, shooting of Chris “Snaxx” Fincik, 36, in his Monessen home. She is charged with second- and third-degree murder, robbery and other offenses.

Police said Fincik, a known drug dealer, had heroin, cocaine and more than $3,200 in his home when three masked man stormed his back door, fired four shots and killed him, then fled.

During an interview with police a day after the slaying, Hughes denied any involvement in the shooting and never mentioned the trip to Wal-Mart, Weaver testified.

Hughes was taken into custody the next day when police found a Wal-Mart store video that showed her buying the bullets.

When confronted about the video, Hughes changed her story. Weaver said Hughes claimed her boyfriend, Earl Pinkney, told her that he was involved in Fincik's death.

“Earl admitted he, Josh and Antoine went to Snaxx's to rob him because he had a lot of money,” Weaver testified.

“He said if he would have known Snaxx was her godfather, he wouldn't have gone to the house.”

Pinkney, 20, of Monessen is in jail awaiting trial for murder. Stepoli, 21, and Hairston, 19, have not been charged in connection with Fincik's death.

Amy Calabrese, 30, told jurors that she spoke to Hughes while they were incarcerated in the county jail in January 2013 and Hughes confessed her involvement in the slaying.

Calabrese testified that Hughes said she was at the murder scene and admitted to buying the bullets used.

Hughes claimed she and the men destroyed the murder weapon, Calabrese told jurors.

“She thought it was cool to be a drug dealer, and that's what she wanted to do,” Calabrese testified.

Defense attorney Tim Andrews questioned Calabrese, who has 10 convictions for theft and other offenses dating to 2002, about the reasons for her involvement in the case.

Calabrese, who was in jail on pending theft charges, was released on an unsecured bond when she talked with detectives, she testified.

The defense contends there is insufficient proof that Hughes knew that Fincik was to be robbed with the bullets she bought and that shell casings found at the scene cannot be linked to the Wal-Mart purchase.

Two casings found outside Fincik's back door matched the brand of ammunition purchased by Hughes, according to the prosecution.

Two defense witnesses testified on Friday that there was genetic material from Fincik on the casings.

Hughes' defense will continue to present evidence when the trial resumes on Monday morning before Judge Al Bell.

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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