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Mid-Mon Valley duo to stand trial in Mary Irene Gency's 1977 murder

| Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two Mid-Mon Valley men accused of murdering a teenage North Charleroi girl and disposing of her body in 1977 have been ordered to stand trial.

However, David Bernard Davoli, 53, of 1105 Meadow Ave., Charleroi, and Robert William Urwin Jr., 53, of 17 Coal St., Dunlevy, will not face trial for conspiring to murder Mary Irene Gency, even though prosecution witnesses alleged the victim was seen in Davoli's truck with Urwin the night of Feb. 13, 1977, when she was killed.

The criminal conspiracy charges were dismissed during a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Washington County Central court before Monongahela-based Magisterial District Judge Mark Wilson.

They are charged with criminal homicide.

Gency's body was found six days later by deer hunters John and Ronald Yancec in a hayfield near the Charleroi Sportsman's Club along Gun Club Road in Fallowfield Township.

Urwin's attorney, Joe Francis, said he will try to have the defendants tried separately now that the conspiracy charge has been dismissed.

Francis praised Wilson's decision, saying it is rare to have a conspiracy charge dismissed in a murder trial. He said the decision "speaks volumes" about the lack of evidence in the case.

Jeff Watson, representing Davoli, said he was pleased with the decision. Watson said he and his client give their condolences to Mary Gency's mother, Doris Gency.

"We believe Mr. Davoli did not cause or contribute to the death of Mary Gency," Watson said. "When this is concluded, hopefully law enforcement personnel can concentrate on finding the true killer."

This is the second time Davoli has been accused of killing Gency, as he was the prime suspect following her death. But the charges were dropped in July 1977 because of insufficient evidence.

The prosecution paraded 11 witnesses to the stand in a hearing that lasted more than seven hours in Washington County Central Court.

The biggest difference in the case after 33 years is the advancement of DNA testing.

Barbara Leal, a DNA expert for Orchid Cellmark in Texas, testified that she conducted Y-STR style of testing for male DNA samples. That testing revealed semen on Gency's underwear that was consistent with the two defendants.

But in cross-examination, she acknowledged that the testing only indicates that Davoli, Urwin and their paternal lineage are consistent with the positive test results. She also acknowledged that the DNA material could have remained from previous encounters, even after the clothing was washed.

The state police lab in Greensburg performed DNA testing on the jeans Gency was wearing when her body was discovered. The Y-STR testing found a match for Urwin only, said Michael Biondi, supervisor of the Greensburg lab.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Abdulrezak Shakir, reading from a report of a 1977 autopsy conducted by former Washington County pathologist Dr. Ernest Abernathy, said Gency died from blunt force trauma to the head. The report indicated she suffered more than 100 blows to her body and was six-weeks pregnant, Shakir said.

He said undigested food in her stomach indicated she died likely between 8 and 9 p.m. Feb. 13, 1977, just two to three hours after she ate dinner with her mother, Doris Gency.

Doris Gency testified Wednesday that her daughter cried after a telephone call at her home around 5 that night. When asked what was wrong, Mary Gency told her mother, "I'll take care of my own problems."

In cross-examination, Doris Gency said her daughter and Urwin, four years her senior, had a good relationship until about a month before her death. She said Urwin apparently began dating Mary Gency's good friend.

Doris Gency testified that Urwin continued to visit her following Mary's Gency's death, adding, "He always talked like a friend to me."

Doris Gency said Davoli called her after the murder to say "he didn't do it."

Brothers Aaron and David Kash testified they saw Gency outside the Islay's store in downtown Charleroi the night the girl disappeared. David Kash said he saw Gency get into Davoli's car shortly before 7:30 p.m.

William Smith testified he saw Gency in Davoli's car and later saw the car on Gun Club Road in Fallowfield Township.

Smith said he and two friends went to the remote area of Fallowfield Township to smoke marijuana. The driver flashed his headlights at the Davoli car, a sign asking if the occupants of that vehicle wanted to "party" with them. No one responded.

Smith said he believed no one was in the car at that time. But in cross-examination admitted he did not definitely see if the vehicle was occupied when he saw it in Fallowfield that night.

State Trooper Frederick Gregg testified that Davoli admitted smoking a joint with Gency and later receiving oral sex from her in his car along Gun Club Road. Gregg said Davoli told him Gency got out of the car to urinate and never came back.

State police Cpl. Beverly Ashton testified that Gency's clothing was resubmitted for DNA testing last year. Ashton said Davoli originally denied having any relations with the victim, denied being in Charleroi the night Gency disappeared and denied he picked Gency up that night.

Urwin told her he had a sexual relationship with Gency until a month before her death. But he did not learn she was pregnant until after her death, Urwin told Ashton.

In cross-examination, Ashton acknowledged she could not identify the murder weapon.

Francis asked why DNA samples were taken from a third person in the Davoli vehicle, George "Porky" Poskon, and why he is not a suspect.

"I didn't say that," Ashton said. "He's not under arrest. Whether or not he's a suspect is a different matter."

Francis told Ashton, "You have no idea which one of these two accused killed Mary Gency and the role the other one played."

"That is correct," Ashton replied.

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