East Pittsburgh woman found guilty of manslaughter in boyfriend's death

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Demona Anderson had just had a domestic dispute with her boyfriend and called 911. He had hit her, and she wanted him to be arrested.

While she awaited officers’ arrival at Frankstown and Paulson avenues late Feb. 7, 2013, her boyfriend, Dwan Jones, held money in his hand and looked like he was about to board a Port Authority bus.

Ms. Anderson told officers she didn’t want him to leave, so she attempted to block his path with her van and “accidentally” hit him. A video captured by the bus first shows Ms. Anderson’s vehicle bumping into Jones. But then it strikes him again, and his body bounces off the hood and falls violently to the street.

He died about two months later from head injuries sustained in the incident.

On Wednesday, Ms. Anderson, 40, of East Pittsburgh was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter following a nonjury trial before Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen.

Assistant district attorney Edward Scheid argued during closing arguments that Ms. Anderson should be found guilty of murder because she intended to kill Jones.

“The way that vehicle was used — it crushed him,” the prosecutor said. “Rather than wait for the local police to answer her 911 call, Demona Anderson decided to create tragedy.”

Mr. Scheid told Judge Machen the defendant could be found guilty of first-, second- or third-degree murders.

First-degree requires premeditation and the specific intent to kill. Second-degree occurs during the commission of another felony — in this case, robbery. After she struck Jones, Ms. Anderson took money from him as he lay in the street. And third-degree is any other killing with malice.

While Judge Machen agreed some of the elements of murder could be found in Ms. Anderson’s case, he said that the commonwealth could not prove those charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Instead, he agreed with defense attorney Richard Narvin that Ms. Anderson acted recklessly and with gross negligence.

“The commonwealth has not brought forth any evidence she intended to kill Dwan Jones,” Mr. Narvin said.

Ms. Anderson testified on her own behalf Wednesday and said she felt threatened by Jones even after she was in her vehicle and he was outside.

But when pushed by Mr. Scheid, Ms. Anderson relented and said, “There was no threat at that time. I just wanted him arrested. He was trying to get away.”

She told the court Jones had been to jail several times following domestic disputes between the couple.

Ms. Anderson will be sentenced Aug. 5. Until then, she remains free on bond.

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620. First Published May 14, 2014 12:29 PM


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