Trial to begin for third defendant in fatal drug dealer robbery in Latrobe |

Trial to begin for third defendant in fatal drug dealer robbery in Latrobe

Rich Cholodofsky
Tribune-Review file
Colin P. Gearhart of Latrobe is led away from the Unity Township office of Magisterial District Judge Michael R. Mahady on Feb. 25, 2016 following a preliminary hearing.

Opening statements will begin Tuesday in the second-degree murder trial of a Latrobe man accused of participating in a plot to rob a Pittsburgh-area drug dealer.

The plan went awry, according to investigators, and 20-year-old Daniel McNerny of Latrobe was shot and killed.

A jury was seated on Monday to hear evidence in the case against Colin Gearhart, 20, one of three men charged in connection with McNerny’s death.

Prosecutors contend Gearhart, along with friends Zachary McGrath and Austin Krinock, plotted the robbery in January 2016 in retaliation over a verbal threat made against Krinock. Police contend McGrath wore a mask and held two men at gunpoint in the road in front of Gearhart’s home on St. Clair Street. Police said McNerny went outside to help, identified McGrath as the masked man and was shot twice as he tried to stop the heist.

McNerny was not a participant in the robbery plot or its target, prosecutors said.

District Attorney John Peck listed 22 potential witnesses who may testify against Gearhart. The trial before Common Pleas Court Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio is expected to last about a week.

A jury in January convicted McGrath, 23, of Latrobe, of second-degree murder. He faces a mandatory penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole when sentenced this year by Bilik-DeFazio.

Krinock, of Johnstown, who like Gearhart was 17 at the time of his arrest, was convicted of second-degree murder. Since he was a juvenile at the time of the crime, he could not received a mandatory life sentence. Instead, he was sentenced to serve 34 years to life in prison.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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