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Court briefs

September 18. 2013 11:13PM
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WILKES-BARRE – A city man charged with shooting and killing another man after a fight between their sons will face all counts relating to a charge of homicide, a senior judge ruled Tuesday.

Attorneys for Shauntae Thomas, 36, sought to have first- and third-degree murder dropped from their client’s case, noting he should face only manslaughter charges based on their view of the evidence in the case.

Prosecutors objected, saying they’ve brought enough evidence against Thomas to charge him with first-degree murder and that it should be up to a jury to decide.

Senior Judge Joseph Augello ruled Thomas will face all counts of an open homicide charge – first- and third-degree murder and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Second-degree murder, the attorneys agreed, does not apply because a felony was not committed at the same time as the murder in the case.

Police say Thomas shot and killed Derrick Cottle, 40, in April. Thomas’ attorneys say that he was “overcome with the intense emotion” after seeing his son beaten and lying in a pool of blood. Because of threats to him and his family, Thomas believed his actions were justified, his attorneys have said.

Augello scheduled a formal arraignment for Thomas on Sept. 25.

WILKES-BARRE – Luzerne County Senior Judge Chester Muroski on Tuesday jailed two defendants and issued arrest warrants for 11 other people who were found in contempt for allegedly failing to pay child support.

Those who were jailed: Laura Scherff, Braithwaite Lane, Quakertown, $3,052; Scot Ashford, Laurel Run Estates, Bear Creek Twp., $1,038.

Those for whom warrants were issued: Matthew Schoch, P.O. Box 271, Harleigh, $282; Joel Krzywicki, Academy St., Wilkes-Barre, $1,904; William Moore, Lewis Street, Hanover Twp., $900.86; Jennifer Martinez, Lady Jane Loop, Manassas, Va., $1,400; Joseph Jonovitch, Jr., Summit Street, Kingston, $1,040; Tracy Sessoms, Riverview Manor, Pittston, $500; Quaheem Holmes, Cherry Street, Plymouth, $664; Brian Clark, Sibley Avenue, Taylor, $7,322; Earl Hoopingarner, Sherman Street, Wilkes-Barre, $350; Holly Brill, Center Street, Wilkes-Barre, $861, Andrew Roxby, Prospect Street, Plymouth, $8,862.

WILKES-BARRE – Prosecutors in the case of a teen awaiting sentencing in the December 2009 shooting death of his great-grandfather have asked that property belonging to the 80-year-old be returned to his family.

Cody Lee, 19, is awaiting sentencing on the third-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Herbert Lee inside their Meeker Outlet Road, Lake Township, home. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Oct. 25.

Prosecutors said in court papers filed Tuesday that Herbert Lee had a wallet containing $203 in cash, a pocket knife and $6.85 in change at the time of his death.

Attorneys asked that the items be returned to Herbert Lee’s family, a request granted by county Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr.

Prosecutors said the items do not relate to the case at all and can be returned to the family.

WILKES-BARRE – A city man charged with trespassing on a Carey Avenue property and who was scheduled to stand trial this week on related charges, pleaded guilty Wednesday before attorneys in the case could present their opening arguments.

George Voit, 51, of Carey Avenue, was scheduled to be tried this week on charges of burglary, criminal trespassing, possession of an instrument of crime and criminal mischief, and a jury was selected Tuesday to hear the case.

Opening statements were scheduled to begin Wednesday, but Voit pleaded guilty to a criminal trespassing charge.

Police say Voit was inside another Carey Avenue home in February that was owned by a woman and he did not have permission to be there.

Voit will be required to pay $581 in restitution to the property owner when he is sentenced on Oct. 28.

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