WILKES-BARRE — Joshua Carlos Ovalles pleaded not guilty in Luzerne County Court Friday afternoon in connection with the summer shooting death of another city man outside a Grant Street home.
“This will be a trial,” defense attorney Peter Moses said following Ovalles’ formal arraignment before President Judge Thomas F. Burke Jr.
“At this point, Mr. Ovalles has no intention of taking a deal,” Moses said.
Ovalles, 19, has been charged with an open count of criminal homicide in the July 7 slaying of Vaughn Kemp, 24, outside 174 S. Grant St.
Two witnesses who testified for the prosecution in district court in August said they saw Ovalles fire shots into the air. The witnesses, 22-year-old Raymond Duval and a teenage boy, were were among 25 to 30 people who attended a party at the South Grant Street home.
Kemp died of multiple gunshot wounds, Deputy Coroner Dan Hughes testified in August.
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.
Duval testified that 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 testified.
Moses responded then that Ovalles said he was innocent, which Moses felt was supported by the fact that neither witness saw Ovalles fire a gun at Kemp.
“He maintains his innocence in this case,” Moses said Friday, following Ovalles’ arraignment. “We don’t believe that the commonwealth can meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis on Friday disagreed.
“We feel that we have a strong case, and all the evidence will be produced at trial,” Salavantis said.
A trial date is likely to be announced next week, after the courts resume for business following Monday’s Columbus Day holiday.
Ovalles is being held without bail.