WILKES-BARRE — Two witnesses called to testify by Luzerne County prosecutors Wednesday said they saw killing suspect Joshua Carlos Ovalles fire shots in the air outside 174 S. Grant St. on July 7.
What they didn’t see, Ovalles’ defense lawyer Peter Moses got out of them, was Vaughn Kemp, 24, being fatally shot.
“This case is filled with holes,” Moses said after District Judge Martin Kane forwarded an open count of criminal homicide against Ovalles to Luzerne County Court. “Joshua Ovalles told me that he maintains his innocence and did not do this. His story to me is supported because no one saw him shoot Vaughn Kemp.”
Assistant District Attorneys Mary Hanlon Mirabito and Mamie Phillips called a teenage boy and Raymond Duval, 22, to testify against Ovalles. The boy and Duval were among 25 to 30 people who attended a party at the South Grant Street house when Kemp was gunned down.
A Spanish interpreter was used for the two witnesses due to their lack of understanding of English.
The boy said he was inside the house when he heard gunfire. He looked out of a second-floor window and saw a man holding a pistol and yelling. “I only saw him shooting in the air,” the boy said.
The boy initialed his name next to Ovalles’ picture in a photo array presented to him by police during an interview on July 9. Moses later said Mirabito did not introduce the photo array as evidence when prosecutors rested their case.
Duval said he was talking to a friend in front of the house when 25 to 30 people walked out from the backyard. He ran when Ovalles fired rounds in the air and did not know what happened to Kemp, he said.
Duval said he told police Ovalles was wearing a white sleeveless shirt, contradicting the boy’s description of the shooter as wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt.
“(Duval) said when he heard the gunshot in the air, he turned and booked it; jumped in a blue car and took off,” Moses said. “He said he never saw Vaughn Kemp from the minute he turned and ran … he never saw the victim get shot.
“I hope they have better witnesses for trial,” Moses noted.
Deputy Coroner Dan Hughes testified Kemp died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Ovalles is being held without bail.