WILKES-BARRE – A city man charged with shooting and killing another man after a fight between their sons says he should face manslaughter charges and not an open count of homicide.
Shauntae Thomas, 36, was charged in April in the fatal shooting of Derrick Cottle, 40, in front of 77 Reno Lane.
Investigators say Thomas’ son and Cottle’s son, whose names were not released, were involved in two fights prior to the deadly shooting. In the second fight, Thomas’ son was struck in the head and knocked out, according to investigators. That incident was quickly followed by a confrontation between the two men, with Thomas allegedly firing a 9mm handgun and striking Cottle twice in the head.
In court papers filed this week by Thomas’ attorneys, Peter Moses, Nanda Palissery and Stephen Molitoris, Thomas has requested that charges of first-, second- and third-degree murder be thrown out.
The attorneys write that the prosecutors’ key witness, Detective Brent Sevison, testified that Thomas told him his emotions “got away from him” and he fired — testimony that they suggest described voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors, the attorneys say, failed to establish any evidence supporting the three different murder charges.
Thomas was home shortly before the killing with his son when Cottle and his friends came to Thomas’ home “for the purpose of committing crimes against Mr. Thomas and his family,” the filing states.
Thomas allegedly saw his son get picked up and thrown to the ground, court papers state, when Thomas chased after Cottle and “fired recklessly” with one shot hitting the ground and ricocheting, another hitting Cottle in the head and two that did not hit anything.
“Mr. Thomas was overcome with the intense emotion of witnessing his son beaten to – what Mr. Thomas thought – was death; and given the threats to Mr. Thomas’ life and the lives of his family, threats all made by known gang members … Mr. Thomas believed that his actions were justified,” the attorneys wrote.
Luzerne County Senior Judge Hugh Mundy scheduled a hearing date for Sept. 6.
Prosecutors did not respond to the attorneys’ request on Friday.