ShareThis Page

Sen. Regola asks dismissal of gun charge

Rich Cholodofsky
| Sunday, June 17, 2012, 2:01 a.m.

The attorneys for state Sen. Robert Regola claim a gun charge filed against him should be dismissed because his teen-age son had a constitutional right to possess a gun to defend himself while his family was out of town.

At issue is an allegation that Regola allowed a juvenile to have access to a gun. Regola was charged after the death of his 14-year-old neighbor, Louis Farrell, who was shot in the head with a gun owned by the senator.

Robert "Bobby" Regola, then 16, was at home alone while his family was in Harrisburg. The teen contended he discovered the gun was missing from the Regola home in Hempfield hours before Louis Farrell's body was discovered by his father on the morning of July 22, 2006, in the woods behind the Farrell home.

Westmoreland County Coroner Kenneth Bacha ruled the boy's death a suicide. Farrell's family disputes the ruling.

In court documents filed Wednesday, Regola's defense team contends that the felony gun charge against the senator should be dismissed because it is unconstitutional.

"It simply cannot be constitutional (for) a citizen (of) this commonwealth to lack the ability to possess a firearm for self protection purposes in his own home. To the extent that Sen. Regola is being prosecuted for his son's possession of a firearm, it is submitted that such prosecution should be dismissed," wrote defense lawyer Charles Porter.

Regola's defense team submitted 18 pages of legal arguments asking Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec to throw out the gun charge as well as felony perjury counts and a misdemeanor offense of reckless endangerment. The defense also wants District Attorney John Peck removed from the case.

Farrell had a key to the Regola home to feed the dogs while the Regolas were in Harrisburg and Bobby was out until the night of July 21, 2006.

Regola's 9 mm Taurus handgun was found next to Farrell's body. Regola initially told police the gun had been kept in his son's bedroom before it was moved to an unlocked box in the master bedroom several months before Farrell died, police said.

During a coroner's inquest last year, Regola testified the gun was never kept in his son's room. That discrepancy is the basis of the perjury charges.

Regola, who is seeking a second term, would be barred from serving in the Senate if he is convicted of a felony.

In yesterday's filing, Porter wrote, "While the commonwealth is permitted to place reasonable restrictions on firearms, it is unreasonable and unconstitutional to prevent an adult from allowing their teenage child to possess a firearm in their home for the purpose of self-defense."

Bobby Regola, now 18, was adjudicated delinquent -- the juvenile court equivalent of a conviction in adult court -- of a misdemeanor gun possession count.

Peck said the gun charge Regola faces is constitutionally sound.

"The fact that you apparently use a gun for self-defense doesn't absolve you from a firearms offense," the district attorney said yesterday.

Peck is expected to submit a written legal argument in two weeks to support the charges against Regola, who faces a trial set for May.

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