Leroy Powell told Allegheny County police five days after his pregnant friend was shot, losing her unborn child, that he saw another teenager with a gun in his hands moments after the shots were fired.
But he testified Wednesday that he did not.
It was a crucial turning point for what defense attorney Blaine Jones described as the “star witness” in the case.
Police interview witness in DaRae Delgado shooting
Leroy Powell, 15, speaks with Allegheny County homicide detectives five days after DaRae Delgado, 15, was shot inside the doorway of her Duquesne home. Ms. Delgado's unborn son died after being struck by a bullet.
But Magisterial District Judge James Hanley Jr. ruled Wednesday that despite the difference in Leroy’s accounts, there was still enough evidence to order Eric Taylor, 15, to stand trial as an adult on charges of homicide, attempted homicide and other crimes. Eric is charged with shooting 15-year-old DaRae Delgado and her fetus while DaRae stood in the doorway of her Duquesne home about 12:30 a.m. May 26.
A motive in the shooting has not been publicly released.
Judge Hanley heard testimony first from Duquesne police Officer Melissa Kuks, who said that when she arrived at the Delgado house about two or three minutes after the shooting, there was no sign of the shooter.
DaRae “just stated that she opened her door and she was shot,” Officer Kuks said. The officer said DaRae did not name the shooter.
Next, the judge heard testimony from Leroy, who stated that he and a group of other teenage boys hung out that night with three girls. Leroy said he left the house with Eric and two other teenage boys, one named Calvonte and another named Daniel.
The group walked along Kennedy Street and when they reached its intersection with Friendship Avenue, where DaRae lived, Calvonte told Leroy and Daniel to wait there, Leroy said. Calvonte and Eric walked toward DaRae’s house, and then Calvonte backed away, Leroy said.
“I heard gunshots,” Leroy said. He testified that he saw Eric and Calvonte run toward him. He said he did not see a gun in Eric’s hand.
Officials then played a video of Leroy’s May 31 interview with detectives. During the 14-minute video, Leroy said of Eric, “I saw his gun” and of the weapon, “It’s little. It’s small. It’s a pistol.”
Defense attorney Jones argued that the charges against his client should be dismissed because Leroy’s testimony in court did not place a gun in his client’s hands. “The Commonwealth is grasping for straws,” Mr. Jones said.
Judge Hanley noted that Leroy’s testimony placed Calvonte backing away from the house when the gunfire erupted.and described Leroy as “a 15-year-old somewhat overwhelmed and nervous about things.”
First Published July 30, 2014 12:00 AM