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Attempted homicide, various assault charges dropped

| Thursday, March 17, 2005

A lapse of memory on the part of the alleged victim and two witnesses to a January shooting in Connellsville has led to attempted homicide and other charges being dismissed against a Connellsville man.

Magisterial District Judge Ronald Haggerty Sr., of Connellsville, Wednesday also dismissed charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and theft that had been filed against Chad Burton, 20, whose last known address was 118 E. Crawford Ave.

According to a police affidavit, Cynthia Nicklow told Connellsville police after the Jan. 31 incident that Burton shot her in the arm after an argument with another, unidentified man over who was the "bigger cocaine supplier" in the city.

The shooting took place in the Nicklow home at 228 S. Prospect St. in the presence of Nicklow's husband, Mark, and son, Ryan, who also allegedly were threatened by Burton.

But yesterday, all three told Fayette County Assistant District Attorney Mark Brooks that they had no memory of the incident.

"They do not recall how this happened," Brooks told Haggerty. "Based on their lack of memory, we cannot proceed."

Burton, however, is not completely in the clear.

He still faces felony charges of possession and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and carrying a firearm without a license, along with a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

Police allege that Burton, while fleeing the scene of the shooting, dropped a .45-caliber pistol, an ammunition clip and two live rounds. When apprehended, police said Burton continued to resist, kicking officers, and then once again attempted to flee. Burton also had cocaine in his possession, according to police.

Burton waived his right to a preliminary hearing on those charges.

Yesterday's memory lapse by the Nicklows was the second time they put a hitch in the prosecution of Burton.

On March 2, the Nicklows failed to show up for Burton's preliminary hearing despite being served with subpoenas to appear. That hearing was continued, and at that time, Haggerty made it clear that if the Nicklows did not appear at yesterday's hearing they would be charged with contempt of court and face as many as 30 days in jail.

During yesterday's proceedings, Mark Nicklow kept his head down, looking away from Burton much of the time.

After the hearing, Cynthia Nicklow was asked if she had been threatened with harm if she testified.

"No," she said.

When asked if she was concerned for her safety, she said, "No, not really."

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