Judge to rule on separating trials of Latrobe woman accused in fatal police standoff
A Westmoreland County judge must decide whether two cases against a Latrobe woman accused of stealing a gun that later allegedly was used in a robbery and a police standoff will be tried separately or together.
Julian Upholster, 26, is accused of taking a handgun and an assault rifle from a roommate on July 17 and giving them to her boyfriend, Scott M. Murphy, 46.
Murphy allegedly used the handgun when he robbed Precision Care Pharmacy in Latrobe the next day and had both firearms during a 17-hour standoff and gunbattle with police that left him dead and a state trooper wounded, according to court documents.
Assistant District Attorney Pete Flanigan argued Thursday that the cases should be tried together because the facts in both are identical.
Defense counsel Michael Ferguson said that trying the cases together would be prejudicial to Upholster. She would not be able to testify in her defense about one case and remain silent about the other, he argued.
A hearing will be held later to determine if Upholster's statements to police after the standoff can be used as trial evidence. The statements were illegally obtained through “coercive tactics” by state police, even though Upholster said she wanted to consult an attorney, Ferguson argued in a pretrial motion.
Upholster is charged with illegal possession of a firearm, theft, firearms not to be carried without a license, robbery and two counts each of receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Judge Rita Hathaway must first consider whether prosecutors have enough evidence on the case alleging that Upholster stole the weapons.
Sheriff's Deputy John Varnise testified briefly Thursday that Upholster does not have a permit or license to carry a firearm.
Upholster was not allowed to have a firearm because of a felony conviction. She pleaded guilty to an armed robbery at a Unity Eat'n Park on June 24, 2008, and was sentenced in August 2008 to 11 1⁄2 to 23 1⁄2 months in jail.
Ferguson is asking Hathaway for funds to pay for a private investigator or an expert to assess Upholster's mental and physical condition at the time of the incidents, according to the motion.
The defense attorney was privately obtained, but the suspect does not have funds to pay for experts, it said.
Police believe Murphy, armed with the handgun, entered the pharmacy at 2:30 p.m. July 18 and demanded OxyContin, a painkiller. He took off with 140 pills while Upholster allegedly waited outside in a vehicle, court records show.
A license plate number provided by a witness led police to Murphy's Lloyd Avenue home that day. He barricaded himself in an upstairs room, and five other occupants fled.
A state police Special Emergency Response Team negotiated with Murphy through the night while power was shut off in the neighborhood and homes were evacuated.
At 11:41 a.m. July 19, troopers stormed the house. Murphy fired from behind a closed door as troopers climbed a staircase. Witnesses heard at least four gunshots.
At least one bullet struck Trooper Brian King's bulletproof face shield and helmet, which saved his life, police said.
The group retreated and re-entered the home about 20 minutes later. Witnesses heard about 20 shots. Police found Murphy dead of gunshots. Investigators have not disclosed which weapon fired the fatal shots.
Upholster is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison.
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.
- Police: Woman faked Mt. Pleasant robbery
- Contractor on New Stanton I-70 project wants access route
- Hempfield officials to review site plan for Excela Health Orthoplex
- Ligonier man accused of beating, strangling woman
- Latrobe parks and recreation director to retire
- Greensburg torture slaying participant Marinucci makes second appeal of sentence as unconstitutional
- Student violinist,Valley School of Ligonier reach settlement
- Training sessions to administer heroin overdose antidote to begin in Derry
- Westmoreland County Fair doubles as meet-and-greet for candidates
- ‘Music in the Mountains’ gets under way this weekend in Ohiopyle
- Tenaska agrees to provide pollution information on proposed South Huntingdon plant