WILKES-BARRE – Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis conceded her first year as the county's chief prosecutor was a learning experience.
Administering her office at the same time shifting attention to deal with budget battles with county officials, Salavantis said the most painful part of the job is meeting with families of homicide victims.
The most difficult time is sitting down with family and explaining to them about what happened, Salavantis said. They are the ones who lost their loved ones. You just want to cry with them. I have shed a tear with the parents and I pledge to them that I have every resource dedicated to find them closure. That is really the most difficult part of being district attorney.
She and investigators had to sit down with the families of 19 homicide victims during 2012.
According to The Times Leader archives, there were nine people killed by gunfire, one person died from an assault and one person died from strangulation. There was one person who died as the result of an alleged drunken-driving crash, five pedestrians died from injuries suffered when they were struck by vehicles that drove away and an elderly woman died in what authorities said was a murder/suicide.
Here is a list of the homicides in 2012, excluding fatal hit-and-runs:
• Jan. 4: Rachel Wolfe, 84, of Berwick, died when her vehicle was struck by another car allegedly driven by Theodore Luciw, 51, of Berwick, on U.S. Route 11 in Salem Township. Luciw was charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence.
• April 5: Tyler Winstead, 14, of Wilkes-Barre, was fatally shot inside 117 Hill St., Wilkes-Barre. Arrest papers allege Winstead died in an accidental shooting by his friend, Elijah Yusiff, 14. Yusiff was charged with an unknown offense in juvenile court. Yusiff's mother, Angelina DeAbreau, 31, was charged with hindering the investigation.
• April 20: Chester Welebob, 87, of Wilkes-Barre Township, took his own life after fatally shooting his wife, Mildred Welebob, 82, outside a skilled nursing facility on East Northampton Street, Wilkes-Barre.
• May 16: Damon Rhasha Trollinger, 26, of Edwardsville, was fatally shot at Eagle Ridge Apartments, Edwardsville, during a marijuana drug sale. George Lee Barnes, 23, of Edwardsville, was charged in the killing.
• July 6: Kenyatta Hughston, 22, of Wilkes-Barre, was shot twice in the head on Jay Street, Wilkes-Barre. Hughston died Oct. 10. His cousin, Shawn Hamilton, 18, was charged in Hughston's homicide.
• July 7: Bradley Swartwood, 21, Nicholas Maldonado, 17, and Lisa Abaunza, 15, were killed and Danny Maldonado, 20, was critically injured in a shooting inside an apartment on First Street, Plymouth. Shawn Hamilton, 18, and his half-brother, Sawud Davis, 17, were charged in the killings.
• Aug. 4: Aaron Reznick, 29, of Ebervale, was found beaten on Carson Street, Hazleton. Reznick died on Aug. 13. Breon Judon, 19, and Mitchell Dedes, 17, both of Hazleton, were charged in Reznick's death.
• Sept. 1: Erick Gwaltney, 34, of Hazleton, was fatally shot in the area of Fourth and Alter streets. No charges have been filed although Hazleton police say they have a person of interest.
• Sept. 9: Scott Lutzetsky, 39, of Edwardsville, was fatally shot outside Bonnie's Bar, Plymouth. William Allabaugh, 25, of Plymouth, was charged in the killing.
• Nov. 9: Leslie Smith, 27, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was found fatally shot inside a vehicle that crashed into a light pole near the Red Roof Inn, state Route 315, Plains Township. No charges have been filed.
• Dec. 18: Maria Brea, 32, of Hazleton, was found strangled to death inside an apartment on East Diamond Avenue, Hazleton. She was reported missing by her family on Dec. 15. No charges have been filed but Hazleton police have a person of interest.