Youngwood man claims he was on drugs when he confessed in 2017 robbery, murder case
A Youngwood man testified Thursday he was under the influence of drugs when he confessed to police about his role in the 2017 robbery and murder of an acquaintance.
Jason Sullenberger, 41, claimed he consumed cocaine and 50 stamp bags of heroin in the hours just before he was brought in for questioning about the Nov. 9, 2017, murder of 50-year-old Matthew Genard in Youngwood.
“I was out of it. I knew what I was doing, what I was saying, but my mind wasn’t there,” Sullenberger said during a pretrial hearing.
Defense attorney Michael DeMatt is attempting to have Sullenberger’s confession barred from evidence at his upcoming murder trial. DeMatt claims Sullenberger, because of his drug use, was incapable of voluntarily agreeing to give a statement to police.
Westmoreland County prosecutors contend Sullenberger was one of four people who conspired to rob Genard when he was stabbed to death in his Youngwood home.
Sullenberger, Christopher David, 41, Michael Covington Jr., 21, and Linda Kay Quidetto, 41, all of Youngwood, were charged with criminal homicide, conspiracy and robbery in Genard’s death.
Investigators said as the three men met with Genard, David put him in a chokehold, exposing his back to allow Sullenberger and Covington to repeatedly stab him.
Genard was stabbed as many as 20 times, according to police.
Police said the men left with Genard’s clothes, money and drugs.
The next day, the men and Quidetto split up two bricks of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and about $1,100 in cash taken from Genard’s home, police said.
In court Thursday, Sullenberger said he didn’t know where he got the drugs that he claimed he took prior to his police interview six days after the murder. Sullenberger told the judge he may have found the drugs on the street. He testified that because of the drugs he did not give police truthful answers.
“I was high. I gave them whatever answers they wanted to hear so I could get out of there,” Sullenberger testified.
State police Trooper Brandon Yeager said he saw no signs that Sullenberger was under the influence of drugs during the interrogation.
Yeager described Sullenberger as sweating and nervous but able to understand and coherently answer questions.
“At no point did I feel he was unable to be interviewed,” Yeager testified. “Honestly, he was almost more put together than myself.”
Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Feliciani said he will rule on the defense request after reviewing written arguments that will be filed in about a month.
Trial dates for Sullenberger and his three co-defendants have not been scheduled.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .