Defense to file new evidence in New Kensington cop-killing case |
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Rich Cholodofsky

Defense attorneys for the man awaiting trial for the 2017 shooting death of New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw will have four weeks to disclose potential evidence that could be used to convince jurors to save his life, a judge said Tuesday.

During a pretrial conference, lawyers for Rahmael Sal Holt, 31, of Harrison, said they have not yet received a report commissioned to find mitigating evidence as to why the death penalty should not be imposed on their client.

Holt did not speak during the hearing before Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway.

He is charged with first-degree murder and other offenses in connection with the Nov. 17, 2017, shooting death of Shaw following a traffic stop in New Kensington.

Police said Holt was a passenger in the stopped vehicle. As he ran from the traffic stop, police said he shot and killed the pursuing Shaw. Holt was arrested and charged after a four-day manhunt.

Defense attorney Tim Dawson said Holt has denied he was the man who fired the shot that killed Shaw.

Westmoreland County prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty against Holt if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

In court Tuesday, Dawson said the defense expects to soon receive the report from the mitigation expert it hired last year, as well as findings by another potential witness who was tasked with analyzing the handwriting on a letter prosecutors claimed Holt wrote to the driver of the vehicle Shaw stopped just before he was killed.

The judge ordered the defense lawyers to turn over both reports to prosecutors by Sept. 10.

Jury selection for Holt’s trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 28. Hathaway in June denied a defense request to select a jury from another county, but said she would reconsider if pretrial publicity makes it impossible to find local residents qualified to hear the case.

Testimony is expected to start Nov. 4.

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