Murder charges dropped in Swissvale shooting of father, 7-year-old |

Murder charges dropped in Swissvale shooting of father, 7-year-old

Jacob Tierney
From left: Brandon Barnett, Jacqua Barnett and Donavan Wilson

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office has withdrawn homicide and conspiracy charges against three men who had been accused of killing a father and his young son in a shootout in Swissvale in December 2017.

The charges were withdrawn because of the death of a key witness, James Backus, according to district attorney’s office spokesman Mike Manko.

“His death creates evidentiary issues that we cannot overcome with the remaining evidence in the case,” Manko said.

Officials could refile charges later, but Manko said he could not comment on whether or how the investigation will proceed.

Donavan L. Wilson, 25, Brandon Barnett, 27, and Jacqua Barnett, 31, were charged with criminal homicide and conspiracy following the shooting death of Walter E. Stewart Jr., 29, and his son, Jo Lawrence Stewart, 7, of North Braddock.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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