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Teen charged in Brashear shooting to stand trial, bail lowered to $100,000

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 3:48 p.m.

Prosecutors have little more than “textbook” hearsay evidence against a teenager accused of shooting at four students outside Brashear High School because a key witness recanted his statement to investigators, a defense attorney said Wednesday.

District Judge Kevin Cooper held Anjohnito “A.J.” Willet Jr. on three counts each of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and four counts of reckless endangerment in connection with the Nov. 13 shooting along Crane Avenue in Beechview.

Blaine Jones, Willet's attorney, urged Cooper to dismiss the charges against his client.

“No one saw him do this,” Jones said.

Cooper dropped one count each of attempted homicide and aggravated assault and lowered Willet's bail to $100,000, down from $500,000.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Catanzarite had difficultly getting details about the shooting from four teenage victims who testified they were walking home just as classes dismissed at Brashear. Three suffered non-life-threatening injuries. A fourth was shot at but not hit.

None could identify the shooter.

Andrew Umphrey and Robert “Eugene” Minor, both 17, were shot in the head. DaJour Jones, 15, was shot in the elbow and foot.

Police said Willet fired several rounds from the woods, possibly in retaliation for a fight about a month earlier.

Pittsburgh police Detective Timothy Nutter said the witness who recanted, Tyron Harris, told him he was in the woods with Willet and saw him holding a gun.

Jones produced an email from Harris recanting his statement and said he was under the influence of multiple substances when he spoke to investigators.

Still, Catanzarite argued there was enough evidence to hold Willet in jail. Two witnesses pointed investigators to where they later recovered a weapon wrapped in a towel inside a black backpack, he said.

“That's not hearsay. That's fact,” Catanzarite said.

Investigators said they have not yet received the results of ballistics tests to determine if the .357-caliber handgun they recovered is connected to the shooting. Willet remains in jail.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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