ShareThis Page

Teen's death still being probed

| Friday, May 4, 2012, 6:46 a.m.

Two weeks after a Westmoreland County teenager died of a gunshot from a weapon owned by a state senator, law enforcement officials still have not determined the manner of death.

Louis A.J. Farrell, 14, of Hempfield, died July 22. His body was found in a wooded area behind his home.

The gun is owned by his next-door neighbor, Sen. Robert Regola, who was in Harrisburg that weekend.

The first-term Republican's 16-year-old son, Robert Regola IV, was at home. The senator has hired attorney Mark A. Rush, of Pittsburgh; his son is represented by attorney Duke George, of New Kensington.

"I don't think anything will come of it. This is just a very unfortunate tragedy," George said.

He said his client "has totally cooperated in the investigation."

State police originally said it would take two weeks to complete analysis of the evidence, but Maj. Frank Monaco, area commander, said Monday that testing is taking longer.

"We want to do this by the numbers," Monaco said. "We can't speed through this and then have somebody make a mistake."

He said test results also will depend on the lab's caseload -- 16 counties rely on the crime lab in Greensburg to test evidence.

"The crime lab has a boatload of cases," Monaco said.

Monaco, Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck and Coroner Ken Bacha refuse to divulge where the 9 mm Taurus was kept in the Regola home or the exact location of Farrell's head wound.

Bacha will only confirm that Farrell died of a "gunshot wound to the head." The location could determine whether the death was suicide, accidental or the result of a crime.

During any investigation involving a firearm, Bacha said, investigators examine tissue around the wound for unburned gunpowder to determine how close the muzzle was to the victim when the gun was fired.

Peck said he has not exonerated Regola of possible negligence in connection with Farrell's death.

The district attorney said at a July 25 news conference that Regola's gun did not have a trigger lock. But Peck said preliminary information from investigators did not indicate that Regola was reckless in securing and storing the weapon.

"I didn't exonerate the senator," Peck said yesterday.

"Reporters asked me what the law was in this type of case. I simply explained what the requirements would be in proving a case -- who left the weapon and whether it was available to someone who should not have had a weapon."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me