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Charges dismissed in West Deer shooting; DA to appeal

Chuck Biedka
| Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PITTSBURGH -- A West Deer man cannot be tried again on charges of trying to kill another man in 2008, a county judge has ruled.

However, the district attorney's office says it will appeal the ruling.

Judge Jeffrey A. Manning ruled that Kenneth G. Kearns, 47, of 80 Mountainview Road, would be subject to double jeopardy if another trial on the charges was allowed. The legal term refers to subjecting a person to a second trial for a crime for which he or she already has been tried.

On May, 15, 2010, Manning declared a mistrial for Kearns on charges of attempted homicide, two counts of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment because the judge learned of the existence of written police notes that were not turned over to the defense attorney while he was preparing for trial.

This week, Kearns' lawyer argued that trying him again on the same charges would constitute double jeopardy.

Manning agreed, and dismissed all charges.

The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office will appeal the decision to a state appellate court.

"While we respect the judge's decision, we will be appealing the ruling," DA's spokesman Mike Manko saidon Tuesday.

Kearns' attorney, Patrick Thomassey, wasn't available for comment.

According to records, Kearns was charged with shooting Joseph Piole, then 44, of Old State Road, Wexford, on June 15, 2008. Piole was shot twice in the torso and once in the right leg, and was hospitalized in Pittsburgh for about three weeks.

At the time, police said the shooting happened shortly before 1:45 a.m. inside Kearns' upstairs game room. Piole and his son had been staying with Kearns, according to police reports, when the two men were involved in an altercation that resulted in the shooting.

Upon his arrest, Kearns told police he shot Piole in self-defense, according to court records.

Piole, who disputes that account, is "extremely unhappy" about the outcome of the case.

An appeal will take at least a year, he said. Piole is unhappy the judge granted 12 postponements requested by the defense even though the prosecution opposed them.

"Here I was laying in a pool of my own blood," Piole said. "Justice• Basically, there is no justice."

Kearns' published number no longer works.

Allegheny County Police and West Deer Police, who investigated, did not return calls for comment yesterday.

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