Suspects in Monessen shooting reject plea deals
Two men awaiting a retrial in connection with a shooting nearly two years ago in Monessen rejected plea bargains on Monday and said they want a jury to decide their fates.
Joseph “Jo Jo” Heath and Rashawn Ford, both of Monessen, have disputed charges that they were involved in the shooting that left Timothy “Boo” Kershaw wounded following an early morning attack on June 25, 2017.
Heath, 29, was charged with attempted murder and 13 other offenses as police said he was the gunman who fired the shots at Kershaw. Ford, 23, was charged with two counts of conspiracy.
Westmoreland County Judge Christopher Feliciani declared a mistrial in January just before Kershaw was set to testify. Feliciani said prosecutors failed to turn over new statements Kershaw made to police days before the trial started.
In court on Monday, defense attorney Emily Smarto said Heath rejected a deal that would have resulted in him pleading guilty to a lesser charge and sentenced to time served in jail since his arrest. Heath was released on bail after the mistrial.
Smarto said Heath objected to pleading guilty to a felony offense.
Ford, who remains in jail, declined a proposed plea bargain in which he would receive a sentence of 11 1/2 to 23 months behind bars, said lawyer Ryan Tutera.
Their trial is scheduled for this week, but because it is listed behind other cases, it may not be held until at least May, the judge said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, email@example.com or via Twitter .