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April 17, 2019
DA folds on 2-year vow to
seek death penalty
Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but
acknowledgement that wide-spread regional
shock was felt today when the Fayette County
District Attorney sent his assistant to court to
cancel his 2017 notice to seek the death penalty in
the already now three-year-long homicide case of
Michael Wright, set to go to trial next month.
Although Fayette County District Attorney Richard
Bower responded in 2017 to defense motions that
his intent to seek the death penalty was not
political grandstanding, Bower today backed
What happened? How does one go from saying,
"This is a case where the death penalty is the only
appropriate punishment if the defendant is
convicted," to "Never mind!" without explanation?
Was a plea deal given to the wrong defendant, or
just too prematurely in the case? Did the defense
find a medical expert to support the defendants'
claim that their child had an illness doctors
RANTS if we never learn the full story, or one day
hear of details only if that defendant files a suit
because the jail couldn't keep him safe from
getting bones broken.
In the meantime, we'll have to sway that the
defense was correct in 2017 about politics
motivating the decision to seek the death penalty.
What other good reason could there possibly be?
6 Mar 19
Can DA be gagged from
hallway scream drama?
RANTS because, apparently, it got way uglier than we
first thought, in a courthouse hallway Monday, when
the district attorney prevented some out of state family
members of a defendant from entering the courtroom,
even though none were to be witnesses in the case.
While the turned away family members did not cause a
disturbance, the district attorney, Rants&Raves is told,
"was cursing and calling someone a d***head
associated with (the) case.
"He was so agitated and loud causing a commotion,"
the source said, describing the angry outburst that the
county district attorney, reportedly, had in the hallway,
prior to the start of the court proceeding.
Some witnessing the loud, uncomfortable drama
thought that security would be called.
Even if he had been in a pleasant and calm mood, not
screaming expletives about peers or co-workers, was
the DA allowed to ban citizens not scheduled to be
witnesses from entering court open to the public, with
gagged attorneys and witnesses?
Or did we invent a new law here in Fay this week?
Or ... did we just break one? (6 Mar 19)
defendant's family out of
Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that
concerns were voiced today here that family
members of defendant Michael Wright were not
permitted to enter a Fayette County courtroom
today for one of his scheduled court dates.
Reportedly, nobody stopped from entering the
courtroom was scheduled to be called as
witnesses in the trial, which is said to be tried as a
death penalty case.
As per sources, the county prosecutors cited the
reason attendance was restricted was a 2016 gag
order placed on witnesses and lawyers in the
case twice discussed on "The Nancy Grace Show"
Wright and Andrea Dusha were charged three
years ago with the starvation and dehydration
death of their two-year-old daughter, Lydia Wright.
Dusha and the child returned to Wright's home
after a 12-day absence two days prior to the
child's death, feeding the child a liquid bottle
feeding of a Pedialyte mixture.
Dusha accepted a controversial plea deal last fall
with the county district attorney to testify against
Wright. (4 Mar 19)
Not guilty on all charges
Fay jury tosses
window in '15
minutes or so'
RANTS that a Fayette County jury needed only
about 15 minutes to deliberate and find the
defendant in a 2017 homicide not guilty on all
charges, including criminal homicide, aggravated
assault and reckless endangerment, today in
Judge Steve Leskinen's courtroom.
Today's quick return of a jury indicates just how
out of touch the county district attorney's office is
with the law and the empty cases they present
and how crazy the judges in this case, for 16
months, have been, for allowing the goings on in
their kangaroo courts to be presented as formal,
In light of today's jury verdict, RANTS that there is
a horribly grieving family of the man shot out
there. The accused maintained he was defending
himself in a parking lot attack from behind, from a
long-time rival and former neighbor, around
Thanksgiving in 2017.
Today's grieving family probably regrets opposing
a plea now and wanting a trial, but should not.
RANTS that the county district attorney, by
keeping the defendant jailed without bail for
months, only gave the family hope that justice
would prevail. He gave them cruel false hope,
was never fully prepared to try this case -- as
today's verdict proves -- and wanted a plea deal
to avoid a trial.
The case clearly was toast last year, when the
surveillance video outside Rizz's Restaurant was
said to be too blurry to confirm which of the two
areas of the deceased's body was shot first.
For the ninety-ninth time, we must say so.
RANTS that the district attorney keeps holding
people on sensational charges, when he does not
have evidence or solid evidence to do so, while
judges without spines keep letting it happen.
6 Mar 19
"Quotes Of The Day"
"Shall any witness in this case, either for the
commonwealth or the defendant, make an
extrajudicial statement, written or oral, likely to
interfere with the rights of the defendant, or the
rights of the commonwealth, to a fair trial by an
impartial jury, he or she will be precluded from
testifying in this matter."
District Attorney's motion to gag the defense
attorney for Chris Shellhammer and his mom, who
was never scheduled to be a witness
testify any more against Chris? She was all over
the television news telling them her original story,
that he came in guns a blazing and shot, shot,
shot, that she later changed to... the dead guy
coming later through the door walking in on her
and Chris. Doesn't that affect Chris getting an
Rants&Raves since today's court adjourned that
doesn't include a lot of expletives
24 Feb 19
Shellhammer gag, among other things
Motions court Monday:
gauge of corruption?
RANTS because in the morning, we're going to find out
if Fayette County really is still as corrupt as some claim
Come Monday morning, a judge is expected to rule on
the district attorney's motion to gag a homicide case
defense attorney and the mother of defendant Chris
Shellhammer, to prevent them from speaking again with
media and to censor the mom's social media posts.
All this attention, we're told by the district attorney, is to
ensure that Shellhammer gets a fair and unbiased trial,
to prevent jury bias, etc., and possibly, too, because he
may call the mom as a witness. Not that we buy any of
it, given nobody else gets gagged in Fay and so many
have turned to the media to highlight cases without
recourse... and because, well, there's no way the
district attorney would need testimony for the
prosecution from the defendant's mom.
RANTS because other neglected work in the county
district attorney's office for at least a week or so got
pushed to the back burner, while valuable time, energy
and public money was spent writing and filing this
foolish gag motion -- and later, even more time, energy
and public money was wasted writing and filing an
even crazier motion to prevent Shellhammer's defense
from referencing the prosecution's star witness as a
current detainee in the county jail, charged with
kidnapping and torturing and hurting another man she
met, as she did Shellhammer, on a singles dating site.
RANTS because the county district attorney continues
to proceed to prosecute a man who endured a broken
jaw, broken nose and concussion closed head injury in
a beating from "unarmed" thugs, before he struggled to
get his gun and shot to save his own life.
RANTS that the man charged and jailed for 13 months,
who said immediately from the start, that he was set up
and beaten, might, come tomorrow, have a judge stop
him from saying in court, or anywhere, that the woman,
who lured him, lured another two months ago and put
that man in ICU after a three-day beating fest.
RANTS that no judge yet has shut down the
prosecution in this case, in spite of hearing or reading
several different versions of her witnessed accounts
and differing police versus court statements, over time,
from the time of the shooting 13 months ago.
Shellhammer's account of the events of those five
minutes that night, however, is the only account before
the judge that has remained consistent to date.
RANTS because in the morning, we may learn just how
corrupt Fay may still be.
RAVES of hope that the district attorney's motions to
gag and not allow the witness' charges to be discussed
in court fail. He cannot by law be allowed to hide
evidence from a jury and never should be asking for
judicial permission and twisted blessing to hide that
No district attorney and judge today should want to be
responsible for creating the next Munshinski.
RANTS because we certainly hope the district attorney
knows what he's doing, but believe him to be miserably
floundering out of frustration of having to take this case
to trial, after not getting a plea deal that he may have
hoped to get.
RAVES of hope that the county's twisted motions to
stop Shellhammer from trying to defend himself again
this second painful time, but now in vicious court rather
than in a vicious Masontown home, are denied and put
to rest tomorrow.
13 Feb 10
DA files motion to gag Mama Jones
Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note of sheer disappointment that an assistant district attorney earlier
this week filed a motion in court to gag and silence an outspoken parent, critical of the county prosecution
of her adult child.
witness at an upcoming trial.
There's that, plus in being critical, the mom the district attorney wants to gag is known to use profanity
and, well, bluntly confront some officials in her many years of political activism. The current district
attorney is not the first elected, local official, who has been targeted for his opposing opinions, and
unlikely will be the last.
DA wants a fair trial
RAVES, though, that the county district attorney and the several different assistants, who have touched
the case of the mom's adult child, seem now to focus on a need to provide a fair trial for the accused. We
cannot agree more. The defendant most definitely deserves a fair trial.
The judge hearing this motion, however, should not find it as important as the district attorney feels it is to
gag the mom, and should not return to court to grant this gag motion.
Someone who is the district attorney's friend should take him aside and suggest he consider a possibility
that he's wrongly taking the criticism personally and should expect to be criticized for professional
decisions. If it's truly extreme, then he should deal separately with the mom and only with the mom about
it. The defendant is not a minor child. The motion to gag seems to have so little to do with wanting a fair
trial. It's more about wanting to silence a critic of her rights.
instance, recall when a commissioner's wife shot him a few years ago and she claimed she was a
domestic abuse victim? That unfortunate case was just about as sensational as any sleepy, weekend
morning news could get, no?
Anyone gagged in Vicites' case?
As players in that story twisted and changed accounts of what happened before and after the
commissioner's wife shot him and media outlets by the score covered it, nobody was gagged. Nobody
attempted to gag anyone's right to free speech.
The case of the wife shooting her commissioner spouse was as sensationalized as few other Fay news
ever got -- even before it spun loco on national and international wires, with the discovery that the
commissioner's shooter wife was a delegate for Hillary Clinton.
Nobody in the county district attorney's office ran to file gag motions to assure that the commissioner's
wife got a fair trial in that highly sensational case. Nobody on the prosecution team was concerned about
that defendant's right to a fair trial.
In fact, the district attorney's very own confidently spoken statement to the press after the shooting of the
commissioner was, "This is not an accident. This is an intentional, reckless act."
Prosecutors always go on and on to the media
The prosecution can say nearly anything they want, in other words.
The prosecution can take to the podium, hold press conferences and rant about the charges. With that one
brief comment quoted above, from the district attorney about the commissioner's wife, did he not
potentially influence all of the potential jurors the courthouse walls can hold on court week, with just that
one televised press conference declaring the accused's guilt and her shooting him as "an intentional,
The defense, though, cannot say one negative word? The defense, when feeling charges are unjust or
were too hastily filed, has no right to say the prosecution is wrong? Not according to the district attorney
gag order request written under the pretense of wanting a fair trial.
Mom wants a fair trial, too
A mom knowing her son acted in self defence has no right to seek interview with television news
reporters interested in her son's case? The motion to seek a gag order mentions the mom's interview on
WPXI television, specifically, as one of the district attorney's beefs with the mom.
Nobody outside the district attorney's office seems to have issue with the appropriately behaved mom in
the short video. She didn't cuss. She took no harsh personal jabs at the district attorney, per se.
She, as previously quoted here, said she wanted common sense to prevail and her adult son out of jail.
Nothing in that entire televised news piece deserved to be tagged as an example of why she should be
gagged. She, in reality, said very little on camera, so few words anyway, but none that would deserve to
be gagged to ensure that her son has a fair trial.
RANTS because the filing of the motion to gag the mom seems not to be what it on paper claims that it is.
Nobody gagged the witness
The district attorney and the several assistants who have touched the case did not gag the case star
witness when she appeared eager for interview on a couple Pittsburgh television news station video
pieces, saying the son of the possibly soon to be gagged mom entered her home and shot boom, boom,
boom, guns a blazing.
Nobody gagged the case's star witness then, nor any member of the dead man's family out there on easily
tracked social media public comments, calling the possibly soon to be gagged mom's son a cold blooded
Nor has anyone downtown, who so strongly attests to being genuinely focused on and dedicated
to getting the man a fair trial, lifted a finger to out and charge sick pups posting anonymous
comments ridiculing the possibly soon to be gagged mom for losing her home, having a disabled
grandchild and a different religion and for having an adult son incarcerated over one year with no
bail, in a shooting in self defense or justified homicide.
The anonymous, online comments on a community trash board about the young man awaiting trial
being a cold blooded murderer have potentially more ability to influence a jury than does one
social media account of one possibly soon to be gagged mom.
Surely, surely, someone who attests to want to provide a fair trial to the man should long before this have
been motioning to obtain court approval to pull an IP account, out, gag and possibly charge those
responsible for posting incredibly hateful things about the possibly soon to be gagged mom and her son.
employee the possibly soon to be gagged mom has been critical of, through public meetings of
government departments in the past several years. There could be even more. Given that her son awaits
trial with no bail, she has been a bit harsher with the district attorney with profanity and personal opinion
on job performance than she ever was to any other elected officials.
None of the other criticized officials banned the mom from public meetings or from offering her opinions
on public matters. Rants&Raves didn't block the woman's IP from reading when she took issue with things
published as straight news with Right To Know back up fact documentation or clearly designated straight
opinion in commentary.
The judge shouldn't help the district attorney gag the mom for a personal difference, either, and should
actually scold him for misdirecting his anger by taking the personal matter of her calling him a terrorist out
on her son.
The judge should realize that it's a little too late for the county prosecutors downtown to start worrying
about providing the son of the possibly soon to be gagged mom with a fair trial. He should recognize the
request for the motion as a possible sign that the county can't win this case in prosecution.
They didn't just miss the boat with this one. They ship wrecked it and now seem to want to blame the
possibly soon to be gagged mom and political activist.
Fay DA off
criminal case of
transfer to AG
county Democrat committee man,
working as a home improvements
contractor a few years ago are
amazingly close to breaking records
of times being jerked around by the
courts and denied due process, as
only people such as Fay Commish
Angela Zimmerlink, Chris
Shellhammer, Diane and Terry Kriss,
former editors of the extinct blog Not
Enough Said, Mr. Munshinski and a
few others have been.
RANTS that the young Bullskin
couple lost about $5,000 to a
contractor two years ago and, as
claimed in their Writ of Mandamus
filed against the district attorney in
federal court five months ago, were
told by the county district attorney,
on more than one occasion, that he
was not prosecuting the county
Democrat committee man working as
a self-employed contractor for theft.
Fayette County District Attorney Rich
Bower, instead, as per the couple's
Writ of Mandamus, ignored their
complaint for two years against the
county Democrat committee man self
employed as their paid contractor
and suggested they seek repayment
through a civil law suit. The need to
have to file that level of grievance
against a district attorney is
The feds typically receive that formal
Writ grievance against some local
lawyers, or a system of legal
defense, such as the county public
defender's office. There were some
of those being filed by frustrated
incarcerated detainees and
sentenced inmates of the Fayette
County Prison in 2018, as readers
here probably recall.
It's a sign, or a concerning
appearance of a sign of political
corruption, for the county's lead and
top prosecutor, the county's district
attorney, to dismiss felonies and
reduce another felony to a
misdemeanor, for a county Democrat
committee man working as a
contractor -- especially, especially
since Bower was once Bower's
Thus, out $5,000, the Bullskin
couple filed the Writ of Mandamus in
federal court five months ago, after
two years, reportedly, of being
shown the door in Bower's office or
Coincidentally -- or, as a direct result
of that filing -- a county detective
appeared pronto at their home. He
asked for their account of the hiring
of the contractor and payment.
The detective seemed to come
through for them one month later.
The local paper carried the tough on
crime story, that the county detective
charged the Democratic committee
man, self-employed contractor, with
three felony charges of theft and
failing to disclose proper contractor
In the meantime, the Bullskin couple
was assured that their August Writ of
Mandamus complaint against Bower
was resolved with filing in
September of charges against the
contractor, Democratic committee
The Writ of Mandamus piece of the
couple's federal file was to be closed
then in September, agreeably by all.
Please keep in mind that the Bullskin
couple still believed at that point in
September that the three criminal
felony charges pressed would finally
Only along the short way before the
first court appearance, Rants&Raves
was told that 2 felonies of theft were
dismissed and the third was
downgraded to a misdemeanor. It is
unclear when that agreement was
made for the county Democratic
committee man self-employed as a
contractor, in which court
appearance that revelation was
disclosed to the Bullskin couple.
In interview on Tuesday, one of the
two in the Bullskin household
expressed surprise to receive a copy
of Leskinen's court order written on
During an court appearance four
weeks ago, before Leskinen, "Bower
was a no show" leaving the judge to
leaf through the court paperwork and
find "a piece of paper in the middle
of everything that indicated that
Bower was turning the case over to
the (state attorney general),"
Rants&Raves was told.
"(Leskinen) was not happy that he
was not told the week before the
hearing," she said yesterday of their
time spent in court on January 14,
one month ago. Bower was not
present, but, reportedly, had asked
for 30 days to refer the bulky file to
the state attorney general.
The judge, 17 days after the court
date, issued the court order on the
third day this month, requiring Bower
to recuse himself due to a conflict of
Concerning is that eight days since
Leskinen issued his court order, the
state attorney general's attorney
updated the victims that its state
office has yet to receive any
forwarded information from Bower's
office. The state promises more
details to the victim in the next few
Why hadn't Bower realized his
conflict of interest two years ago and
referred the matter to the state
attorney general in the first or even
second place? Email to Bower and a
Right To Know request were sent
today asking to confirm that Bower
did or did not voluntarily initiate a
transfer of the case to the state
attorney general for investigation or
Judge, AG on
same page yet?
Of concern, too, is news that
Leskinen told the couple two days
ago that he received a letter from the
state attorney general's office the
previous week before he wrote his
court order on February 3, that the
district attorney must recuse himself
to the state attorney general for all
However, the state attorney general
rep, who yesterday could not locate
the letter that Leskinen said he
received one week earlier from the
state attorney general office, said he
knew nothing of the judge's order
and promised updates to the couple
later in the week.
Now, just to avoid confusion. The
customers mentioned so far are
none of those more recently
victimized, who told a Pittsburgh
television news reporter -- with the
approval of the state attorney
general office -- that a downtown
Uniontown business specializing in
kitchen upgrades suddenly closed
and did not provide the paid for
goods or services.
What's worse, those customers,
reportedly, were stiffed by a
business owner said to have left
another previous location the same
way, disappointing, owing. Locals
told Pittsburgh television news that
their criminal theft complaints went
unaddressed downtown at Bower's
office, so, reportedly, contacted the
state attorney general to ask for
prosecution of the business owner.
The news video produced with
stiffed customers never aired, or at
least, has not yet aired. Reportedly,
as per a highly trusted source, the
state attorney general office, in that
case, wants to hold off and give the
business owner more time to resolve
problems or repayment with the
12 Feb 19