Two teens face trial in Ben Avon slaying over stolen bong
April 19, 2017 6:15 PM
Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Ben Avon after an 18-year-old was fatally shot while trying to chase robbery suspects.
John Pignanelli, 25, is the third person arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a man at a Ben Avon home on Jan. 27, 2017.
Allegheny County Jail
Gregg Scholze was held for trial in the shooting death of Kyle Stauber in Ben Avon earlier this year.
By Shelly Bradbury / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
One of three people charged with homicide in the January shooting death of an 18-year-old Ben Avon man testified against his co-defendants during a preliminary hearing Wednesday in City Court, Downtown.
John Pignanelli, 26, of West View, told the court that he was “negotiating” a deal with prosecutors for a lesser punishment in exchange for his testimony against Gregg Scholze and Kayla Naper, both 19 and also of West View.
Mike Manko, spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office, could not confirm those negotiations. The trio is charged with killing Kyle Stauber, 18, outside a home on Spruce Run Road just after midnight on Jan. 27.
Patrick Thomassey, the attorney representing Mr. Scholze, began to lay out a self-defense argument during the hearing, while attorney David Shrager, representing Ms. Naper, argued that his client wasn’t involved in the killing.
District Judge Derwin Rushing ordered both Mr. Scholze and Ms. Naper to stand trial.
The incident started the evening of Jan. 26, Mr. Pignanelli said during the hearing.
Ms. Naper believed that someone inside the home on Spruce Run Road had stolen her bong — a water pipe used to smoke marijuana — and the men decided to go and get it back. She and Mr. Scholze were dating at the time, prosecutors said.
Mr. Pignanelli said he never thought they were planning to rob the people inside the house. He said Mr. Scholze offered him a pair of brass knuckles during the car ride to the home on Spruce Run Road, but he did not accept them.
He said someone inside the home let them in when they arrived, at which point they had a heated discussion about the stolen bong. He claimed no one attempted a robbery but said he took two bongs from a mantel, believing one may be Ms. Naper’s.
But Jeffrey “Jack” Spengler, who was inside the home, said the men broke in and began to rob them, taking bongs, a video game console and games. He said Mr. Scholze pulled out a gun.
Mr. Spengler testified that the stolen bong was not inside the house.
When the men left the home, three people in the house each grabbed weapons and chased after them, Mr. Spengler said. Mr. Stauber carried a baseball bat, a woman picked up a knife and he grabbed a gun, Mr. Spengler said.
Outside, Ms. Naper and Mr. Pignanelli were inside the parked car when Mr. Stauber came running up with the baseball bat. Mr. Scholze was standing outside by the back of the car, Mr. Pignanelli said.
Mr. Pignanelli heard a gunshot, and then heard Mr. Stauber hit the car with the baseball bat, he said, shattering one window. A moment later, he heard two more gunshots, Mr. Pignanelli said. Mr. Scholze then jumped into the car.
“I heard Greg say, ‘I shot Kyle, I shot Kyle,’ ” Mr. Pignanelli said.
The three co-defendants, plus another man who was in the car, drove to Ms. Naper’s mother’s house, where Mr. Scholze and Ms. Naper hid the gun, which was stolen, in a basement. Mr. Scholze changed out of bloody clothes, Mr. Pignanelli said.
Mr. Stauber was still alive when officers arrived at the scene of the shooting, and he named Mr. Scholze as the shooter before he died, according to court records.
On cross examination, Mr. Thomassey questioned Mr. Spengler about why the three people inside the home chased after the men.
“When they leave, you could have just closed the door and called the police,” he said to Mr. Spengler. “And we wouldn’t be here today.”
Mr. Shrager argued that his client, Ms. Naper, had nothing to do with the robbery or the shooting.
“My client never said anything about robbing or hurting anybody,” he said. “Mere presence is not enough.”
But prosecutor Jonathan Lusty said Ms. Naper took an active role in the crime.