Court upholds New Kensington woman’s prison sentence for aiding accused cop killer
A state appellate court upheld the prison sentence for a New Kensington woman who helped a man accused of fatally shooting city police Officer Brian Shaw in 2017.
Lakita Caine, 41, pleaded guilty in May 2018 to hindering the apprehension of Rahmael Sol Holt, who is accused of shooting and killing Shaw during a Nov. 17, 2017, traffic stop. Caine was sentenced in October to three to seven years in prison.
Caine argued in state Superior Court that the sentence should be overturned because it exceeded state sentencing guidelines.
While the standard guidelines for hindering apprehension typically call for a few months in jail, Assistant District Attorney James Lazar argued that letters exchanged between Holt and Caine showed she was upset with witnesses who reported her to police.
Witnesses told police that Holt visited Caine’s home shortly after the shooting and left behind an unidentified object in the basement.
Investigators believe the object was the weapon used to kill Shaw, and it was subsequently removed from Caine’s house by another woman, according to Westmoreland County Detective Ray Dupilka.
Police said Caine initially lied when investigators questioned her and her daughter about Holt’s whereabouts following the shooting. She said she had not seen Holt and didn’t know his whereabouts. Holt was arrested four days later in Pittsburgh.
Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway said at Caine’s sentencing that Caine should have known better because she holds an associate’s degree in criminal justice.
“She knew Rahmael Holt was in her home and a police officer was killed. If she had not lied, they’d have that gun,” Hathaway said at the sentencing.
The appellate court agreed with Hathaway.
“(Caine) showed no remorse after her crimes and complained to Rahmael Holt that she was facing charges due to a ‘snitch’ and lamented that Holt could not find a way to get her out of prison. For these reasons, the trial court’s sentence was not an abuse of discretion,” the appellate court wrote in its seven-page opinion.
Holt, 31, of Harrison, is scheduled to be tried on charges including first-degree murder this fall. Jury selection for Holt’s November trial is scheduled to begin in late October.
Testimony is slated to begin Nov. 4. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty if Holt is convicted.
Caine’s daughter, Taylor Mitchell, 20, pleaded guilty to the same offense — hindering the apprehensive of a fugitive — and was sentenced by Hathaway to serve 11-1/2 to 23 months in jail and an additional two years on probation. A state appeals court in 2018 upheld that sentence as well.
Lisa Harrington, 32, of New Kensington, the woman police said may have removed the gun from Caine’s home, was charged with three counts of hindering the apprehension of Holt. Her case is scheduled for trial in October.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .