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Jury acquits Duquesne woman of Monessen homicide

Joe Napsha
| Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 3:48 p.m.

A Duquesne woman avoided life behind bars on Wednesday when a Westmoreland County jury found her not guilty of the 2012 slaying of a Monessen man, but she could spend up to 20 years in prison for her part in the robbery that ended with the victim's death.

After more than 14 hours of deliberation, Chalsee Hughes, 21, was found not guilty of second- and third-degree murder and conspiracy to commit homicide.

But jurors found her guilty of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery for buying the bullets that prosecutors said were used by three men to kill Chris “Snaxx” Fincik, 36, in his home on Dec. 2, 2012.

Hughes cried when the jury foreman read the verdict acquitting her of the murder charges, and she continued to cry as she learned she was found guilty of the robbery and conspiracy charges.

She smiled to about a half-dozen friends inside Judge Al Bell's courtroom as she was removed by sheriff's deputies to be returned to the county jail, where she has been held the past 15 months. Bell denied defense attorney Tim Andrews' request that bond be set.

Bell said he will sentence Hughes within 90 days, after a pre-sentence investigation is complete.

Fincik's mother, Michele Fincik of Charleroi, expressed disappointment with the split verdict.

“I've lost a son. His daughter lost a father, and everybody gets to go home,” Fincik said outside the courthouse.

Hughes' mother, Tiffany Hughes of Duquesne, remained outside the courtroom when the verdict was read. As people filed into the room to learn of Hughes' fate, her mother was praying.

“We said a prayer. A mother's prayer is the best,” Tiffany Hughes said, adding that her “prayers go out to the Fincik family. My daughter never, ever had any intention to do anything that she was charged with.

“I hope justice comes to the people who did this,” Tiffany Hughes said.

Andrews said he was pleased with the verdict and he felt that justice was served because Chalsee Hughes was not involved in the homicide.

District Attorney John Peck said he believed the case was made for a second-degree murder conviction, but the jury might have been reluctant to convict the young woman on a murder charge that would have sent her to prison for life. Peck said he was thankful for the jury convicting Hughes on the robbery charges.

Fincik, 36, was shot to death when four bullets were fired through the closed door of his home during an attempted robbery by three masked men.

The suspected shooter, Earl Pinkney, 20, of Monessen, is in jail and faces a pretrial conference scheduled for April 24 before Bell. Pinkney was Hughes' boyfriend at the time of the shooting.

Prosecutors said two other Monessen men — Josh Stepoli, 21, and Antoine Hairston, 19 — went to the house with Pinkney, but they have not been charged in connection with the killing.

Fincik, who had a record for drug convictions, had heroin, cocaine and more than $3,100 in his home, police said.

Police said Hughes was seen in a videotape with two men at a Wal-Mart store in Rostraver, displaying identification to purchase a box of ammunition. Three hours after the bullets were purchased, Peck told jurors, bullets from that box of ammunition were used to kill Fincik.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252.

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