Attorney for Turtle Creek man seeks to try 2 overdose death cases separately
It would be unfair for an Allegheny County man accused in two 2017 drug overdose deaths to have one trial for both cases, his attorney argued Thursday.
Demetrius Bernard Christmas, 30, of Turtle Creek, is seeking to have separate trials in connection with the deaths of Paul Lucas, 21, of Murrysville, and Jeffrey Gettemy, 30, of Greensburg. He allegedly supplied the drugs to a dealer who sold heroin to the pair about seven weeks apart.
Attorney Lee Rothman said because two victims died on separate occasions — Lucas on April 13, 2017, and Gettemy on June 1, 2017 — there should be two trials. If there were separate trials, information about the death of the other victim would not be admissible, Rothman argued.
“Would a human being be more likely to convict someone because they hear he is” connected to two deaths and not one? That’s the fear,” Rothman said.
There are “all types of possibilities of prejudice” in trying both cases at the same time, he said.
“I think this case screams and shouts for this court to sever,” Rothman said.
Prosecutors have consolidated the cases and intend to try them together. Assistant District Attorney Anthony Iannamorelli said Christmas’ co-defendant, Jeremy Mason, 34, of Manor, identified him in both deaths as his supplier. Mason is accused of selling the drugs to Gettemy and Lucas.
“Those details and facts line up with each other,” Iannamorelli said.
Both Christmas and Mason are charged with drug delivery resulting in death in addition to other offenses.
Judge Timothy Krieger ordered both parties submit briefs with their arguments. Christmas’ trial was pushed back to later this year.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .