Attorney wants separate trials in 2017 drug death cases
The lawyer for an Allegheny County man charged with selling fatal doses of drugs in 2017 to men in Greensburg and Murrysville said two separate trials should be convened.
Two consolidated cases of drug delivery resulting in death currently are pending against Demetrius Bernard Christmas, 30, of Turtle Creek. Prosecutors contend Christmas was the drug supplier to a dealer who sold heroin to Paul Lucas, 31, of Murrysville, who died of an overdose on April 13, 2017, and to Jeffrey Gettemy, 30, who was found dead in a Greensburg apartment on June 1, 2017.
In both cases, police said Christmas sold the drugs to Jeremy S. Mason, 34, of Manor, who, in turn, distributed them to Lucas and Gettemy.
Defense attorney Lee Rothman, in court documents filed Monday, said Lucas and Gettemy were not associates and because their deaths occurred nearly two months apart, there should be separate trials involving the charges associated with the overdose deaths.
“Defendant would be prejudiced by the admission of his criminal history into a consolidated trial, as the jury would be incapable of separating the evidence and may tend to convict him of all charges based on a perceived propensity to commit crime,” Rothman wrote.
Christmas’ trial had been scheduled to begin in April. Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Tim Krieger on Monday delayed the trial until at least June to allow time to consider the new defense request for separate trials.
Drug delivery resulting in death charges against Mason in connection with the Lucas and Gettemy deaths still are pending.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .