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3 plead guilty to shooting at man in Monessen

| Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Two Monessen siblings and a third man pleaded guilty on Monday to charges stemming from a shooting 17 months ago that police said was in response to a murder hours earlier.

The men, Joshua Stepoli, 20; his brother, Terrance Stepoli, 21; and Antoine Hairston, 20, were sentenced to serve up to four years in prison for the Dec. 4, 2012, shooting at Jaisen Irwin outside his Monessen home.

Police said Irwin, then 19, was shot at by a group of a least five people who believed he spread rumors about their alleged involvement in the murder earlier that day of a local drug dealer during a botched robbery.

Under terms of the plea bargain approved on Monday, the Stepoli brothers and Hairston were paroled after serving 17 months in jail.

Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. ordered the men to serve the first year of their parole on house arrest connected to an electronic monitor.

District Attorney John Peck explained the plea bargain was necessary because of evidentiary problems with the case.

“No witnesses could corroborate the victim's statement. We could not identify who the shooter was, and the weapons we found, we could not identify specifically to the crime,” Peck said.

The prosecution contended the group drove up to Irwin's home in broad daylight, and several shots were fired. Irwin was not hit by any of the shots.

The incident occurred hours after 36-year-old Chris “Snaxx” Fincik was gunned down in his home. Two people arrested in that murder identified Joshua Stepoli as the man who shot Fincik, but no charges have been filed against him in connection with the homicide. Hairston also was identified by two people in custody as being involved in the murder. He also has not been charged in that case.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” Peck said on Monday.

Meanwhile, Earl Pinkney, 20, of Monessen is awaiting trial in Fincik's murder. Pinkney is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault in connection with the Irwin shooting.

The Stepolis' sister, Samone Stepoli, 22, is expected to appear in court on Tuesday to plead guilty to charges related to the Irwin shooting.

Last month a Westmoreland County jury acquitted 21-year-old Chalsee Hughes of second-degree and third-degree murder in connection with Fincik's death.

Hughes, who was convicted of robbery, was accused of purchasing the bullets used in the murder. During the trial, jurors saw a Wal-Mart store security video that depicted Hughes and two men identified as Joshua Stepoli and Hairston with her when the bullets were purchased.

Hughes is expected to be sentenced later this summer.

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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