McKeesport man convicted in Westmoreland heroin ring wants new trial
An Allegheny County man serving up to 23 years in prison for his role in a drug distribution ring that operated in central Westmoreland County through 2012 contends he was a victim of a botched defense.
The new lawyer for Dominick Haynes, 32, of McKeesport, during a hearing Wednesday, contended his client should have a new trial because no effort was made to present witnesses who would have convinced jurors he was not involved with the operation in which about 20 people were charged and convicted for their involvement in selling heroin in the Greensburg, Mt. Pleasant and Latrobe areas.
Prosecutors at trial contended Haynes was a lieutenant in the drug ring that sold about 50,000 bricks of heroin each week and netted about $1.2 million in sales during a six-month period.
“He was an independent drug dealer. If the defendant had presented evidence to that effect, he would have been acquitted,” said defense attorney Tim Dawson.
Haynes now contends that his former lawyer did not present any witnesses during a six-day trial in 2013 and that he should have contacted some of the more than dozen co-defendants to see if they would testify on his behalf.
Attorney William Gallishen, who represented Haynes during the trial, testified Wednesday that his former client never asked him to seek out witnesses for his defense or to ask if any co-defendants would assist with Haynes defense.
“He never asked me to call any witnesses, and no other witnesses could be called because most other defendants were still awaiting trial,” Gallishen said.
Haynes is serving 8 to 23 years in prison.
Westmoreland County prosecutors contend there is no basis for the appeal.
Assistant District Attorney Jim Lazar said any contention that one of Haynes’ co-defendants would have assisted his defense while still awaiting trial on similar charges was unrealistic. Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway rejected Lazar’s attempt to call Dawson as a prosecution witnesses during Wednesday’s appeal hearing.
Lazar said he wanted to hear from Dawson, who represented another defendant charged with Haynes in 2012, about the likelihood of him allowing his then client to testify for another person charged in the case.
Hathaway did not rule on Haynes’ appeal. She said she would issue a ruling after reviewing written legal arguments she ordered to be filed later.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .