Witnesses: Homestead shooting not self-defense

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William Welsh ambled away.

Just moments earlier, the 89-year-old man who walks with a cane shot William Menni twice in the neck, according to a witness.

Ralph Zimmerman, who had been working in Homestead with Mr. Menni at a demolition site across the street from Mr. Welsh's funeral home, testified at Mr. Welsh's trial Tuesday.

"I heard a shot," Mr. Zimmerman said. "When I turned, I saw Mr. Welsh shoot Mr. Menni on the ground a second time.

"I went over and screamed at Mr. Welsh, 'No, no, no!' And Welsh said, 'Go ahead and call the ... police. I don't care what you do.' "

Homestead police officers showed up at the Welsh residence and funeral home a short time later, where he directed them to the .380-caliber handgun he had stashed in a planter.

Mr. Welsh also "blurted out that he shot [Mr. Menni]," said Homestead police Chief Jeffrey DeSimone.

He described Mr. Welsh's demeanor as "normal, just normal."

Mr. Welsh is charged with criminal homicide stemming from the July 26 incident, and his nonjury trial began Tuesday before Common Pleas Judge Thomas E. Flaherty.

He has claimed self-defense, and that Mr. Menni, 58, of McKees Rocks had been pushing him around. Just before the shooting, Mr. Zimmerman testified that Mr. Welsh spoke to Mr. Menni and said he didn't want any of the demolition debris in his parking lot.

Mr. Menni, who told Mr. Zimmerman he had previously gotten permission to use the lot from Mr. Welsh's son, told the elder Mr. Welsh he would clean it up as soon as his own son returned to help.

Instead, Mr. Zimmerman said, Mr. Welsh began firing.

Homestead police Cpl. Stephen Adams said that when Mr. Welsh's daughter arrived on the scene that afternoon, the defendant said to her, " 'I screwed up. He's still alive.' "

Although Mr. Menni was transported to UPMC Mercy, he died a short time later. He sustained two gunshot wounds to the side of his neck.

Cpl. Adams testified that Mr. Welsh was "calm and collected and aware of what had taken place." The men chatted about Mr. Welsh having survived the D-Day attacks in Normandy during World War II.

Later, Mr. Welsh spoke to county homicide detectives.

"He was tired of being pushed around by Mr. Menni," he told Detective Venerando Costa.

Mr. Welsh said he had been in a long feud with Mr. Menni, who previously worked as an embalmer for him. The feud stemmed from the demolition of the property, and Mr. Welsh kept complaining about Mr. Menni wanting "to do everything his way."

"Mr. Welsh apparently didn't like how the job was being done," Detective Costa said.

The trial continues today.


Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.

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