Pittsburgh police withdraw homicide charges

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Prosecutors on Monday withdrew all charges against a man arrested in connection with a Homewood shooting that left four men injured and one dead.

Corey Clark, 23, of Penn Hills was arrested March 4 in connection with a shooting three days earlier at the Rendezvous Phase III bar on Hamilton Avenue. His attorney, Ken Haber, said Monday that Mr. Clark was inside the bar but did not fire the shots.

"I think that this case highlights how imperfect our system is and how when a case hinges upon eyewitness identification it's fraught with error and leads to wrongful arrests," Mr. Haber said. "I think that had a little bit more care been taken in examining the video and having others review the footage, who know Corey Clark, then this would not have happened."

Officers from the city's Zone 5 station in Highland Park were called to the lounge about 1:20 a.m. March 1 and arrived to find people running out of the bar.

Inside, police found four wounded men, including 27-year-old Vincent Holt Jr. of Homewood, who died after he was shot eight times, according to an affidavit of probable cause. A fifth shooting victim made his own way to West Penn Hospital.

Shortly after the shooting, homicide detectives learned that the bar had several security cameras inside and outside. Video taken from two of the cameras shows a man in a dark hooded sweatshirt walk into the back of the bar area, raise a gun with his left hand and point it at Mr. Holt, according to the affidavit. He fired several shots and then ran out the front door, police wrote.

Police wrote that they received several calls in the days after the shooting indicating that Mr. Clark might have been the shooter. A person who is not named in the affidavit identified Mr. Clark as the shooter.

That same footage was among the evidence that prosecutors reviewed before deciding to withdraw the charges Monday. "We reviewed the evidence, including video evidence, and decided charges are not appropriate at this time," said Mike Manko, spokesman for the Allegheny County district attorney's office.

Mr. Haber said he thought the shooter was larger than his client and noted that the shooter shot with his left hand while his client is right-handed.

"I believe he was in the bar and I believe that might have been what led to people throwing his name out there," Mr. Haber said. "One of the reasons you can tell that the assailant is not Corey Clark is because you see Corey Clark in the video doing what everybody else in the video was doing when the shots went off -- diving on the ground."

Mr. Clark remained in the Allegheny County Jail on Monday on a probation violation after officials said he broke curfew. Mr. Haber said he hopes given the minor nature of the violation and all that happened with the homicide charge that his client will be released shortly.

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published March 24, 2014 3:16 PM


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