PITTSBURGH (AP) — A judge is scheduled to rule Monday on a motion to dismiss charges against one of two men accused of killing five people and an unborn baby at a western Pennsylvania cookout almost four years ago.
33-year-old Cheron Shelton and 31-year-old Robert Thomas are charged in the March 2016 killings in Pittsburgh’s Wilkinsburg suburb. Authorities allege Thomas opened fire on one side and Shelton then gunned down victims running onto a porch for safety.
The attorney for Thomas has sought dismissal of the charges against his client after prosecutors decided against putting a key witness on the stand. Common Pleas Judge Edward Borkowski said he needed the weekend to consider whether enough evidence remains for Thomas to stand trial.
Prosecutors have said they plan to seek capital punishment if the defendants are convicted of first-degree murder. They allege that the target, who survived the gunfire, was a person Shelton believed was involved in the 2013 murder of a friend.
Defense attorneys have contended there is no physical evidence that links the two men to the Wilkinsburg crime scene. Prosecutors contend that cellphone data shows them in communication as well as in the area at the time.
The judge has said that Shelton will proceed to trial Monday morning regardless of his decision about the case against Thomas.