Penn Hills man described by police as ‘one-man crime spree’ gets 5 years in prison |
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Rich Cholodofsky

A Penn Hills man will serve at least five years in prison for two incidents described by Westmoreland County prosecutors as “strikingly similar” to one in which a New Kensington police officer was shot and killed two years ago.

Brandon M. Jeter, 20, pleaded guilty Monday to firearms offenses and fleeing from police, once in 2016 and a second time two years later.

“This person is basically a one-man crime spree,” said Westmoreland County Assistant District Attorney Jim Lazar.

Police said Jeter was 17 in November 2016 when Arnold police tried to question him about a nearby shooting. Lazar said Jeter grabbed for his waistband, where he kept a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and led police on a foot chase before he was captured.

The incident happened about a month after Jeter had been released from custody after serving 161/2 months at the county’s juvenile detention center after being convicted of aggravated assault in connection with the shooting of a man in May 2015 near Allegheny Valley Church of God in New Kensington. The victim in that shooting survived.

Jeter was free on bail in May 2018 when New Kensington police said they chased him on foot following an attempted traffic stop. Police found a loaded Glock pistol under the driver’s seat of Jeter’s vehicle, according to court records.

Lazar compared both cases to the murder in November 2017 of New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw. Shaw was gunned down as he chased a man who jumped out of a vehicle during an attempted traffic stop. Shaw’s killer, Rahmael Sal Holt, 31, of Harrison was convicted last month of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.

Defense attorney Michael DeRiso objected to the comparison but said Jeter was fortunate to survive both encounters with police.

“He’s lucky the police officers didn’t shoot him. Mr. Jeter is lucky to be alive,” DeRiso said.

Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Rita Hathaway imposed multiple sentences that together require Jeter to serve five to 12 years in prison. That sentence is slightly shorter than the plea bargain pitched by prosecutors that would have required Jeter to serve at least six years behind bars.

“You are only 20 years old. This is very alarming to me, and thank God no one was injured in these cases,” Hathaway said. “I’m hoping you will learn something while in prison.”

Prosecutors dropped a third set of charges against Jeter in which he was accused of robbing and beating a woman in a New Kensington alley in May 2018. Lazar said the alleged victim in that case could not be located.

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