Gunman, 2 accomplices ordered to stand trial in Export shooting
Most of the participants in a violent confrontation near an Export park during which a Monroeville man was shot twice were on a three-day methamphetamine binge, one of those charged told a judge Tuesday.
The alleged gunman, Tyler Palandro, 19, of Murrysville and two accomplices, Sandra Lee Cline, 49, of Murrysville and Reese A. Bronick, 34, of Export, were ordered to stand trial by District Judge Charles R. Conway following a four-hour preliminary hearing on charges of aggravated assault and conspiracy filed by state police. Palandro also is accused of illegal possession of a firearm, and Cline is accused of possession of methamphetamine.
Cline’s daughter, Kayla Grant, 27, testified that she, Bronick and Cline were “partying” with Zachary Musto, 23, of Export, who was a friend of the shooting victim, Chace Cole, 27, of Monroeville, at Cline’s house for three days prior to the shooting. The four were “smoking meth,” Kayla Grant said.
On the afternoon of Aug. 25, Grant, who also is charged with assault and conspiracy, said she became angry after discovering hypodermic needles hidden around the house, where she often cares for her toddler. She suspected Musto hid the drug paraphernalia.
“I personally wanted to get into Zack’s face and scream at him. I said I wanted to beat his (expletive),” Grant said under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Leo Ciamataro.
Grant said Palandro arrived at Cline’s house that afternoon with a teenager, Connor J. Yakoweloff, 16, of New Alexandria and the pair joined in the conversation. Testimony from state police Trooper Joseph Lauricia and Grant indicated that Palandro also was angry with Musto for allegedly stealing a cellphone, and Yakoweloff was angry at him over a missing bookbag.
The five then drove in two vehicles looking for Musto in the vicinity of Export Park, Grant said.
Cole testified he noticed a van and car were closely following he and Musto along Italy Road and then on nearby Roosevelt Road near the park. He said the vehicles “blocked me in” as he attempted to turn around.
Cole testified he did not know any of his pursuers but later recognized Grant because he attended high school with her years before.
“I got out of my car and asked what their problem was. One person, (Palandro), opened his door and pulled something silver out and pointed it at me,” Cole said.
“I didn’t know what else to do, so I rushed (Palandro), threw him to the ground and began punching him. Then I heard two pops go off next to my head,” Cole testified.
Ciamataro asked Cole why he stopped punching Palandro.
“I saw blood drops dripping from my head to the ground and knew my head was bleeding,” he said.
Cole said he fled and later was taken to UPMC East in Monroeville for treatment of a gunshot that struck his left chest and exited through his arm, plus a “bullet graze to my head.”
Grant told Conway she “had no idea” that Palandro had a gun. Moments prior to the shooting, Grant testified she got out of her mother’s van and asked Cole “what are you doing fighting Zack’s battles for him?”
Lauricia and Trooper Daniel Pickard testified that the .38 caliber handgun used in the shooting was recovered inside Palandro’s car. Yakoweloff, who is free on $5,000 bail, was charged as an adult with aggravated assault and a firearms violation, but did not testify at yesterday’s hearing.
Yakoweloff’s attorney, Tim Andrews, said he intends to file a motion to have the case moved to juvenile court.
Palandro, Bronick and Cline pleaded not guilty.
Grant waived her case to court prior to Tuesday’s hearing but told attorneys she does not have a plea agreement in place with the district attorney’s office.
Palandro’s attorney, Joseph Pometto, asked Conway to dismiss the complaints. He claimed the gun “unintentionally” went off after Cole charged his client, “threw him to the ground” and began punching him.
Ciamataro argued Palandro, who is free on $75,000 bail, fired the gun multiple times and admitted to troopers in an interview that he intentionally fired the gun.
Conway agreed with Ciamataro and ruled there was sufficient evidence presented during the hearing for the cases to proceed to trial.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .