Testimony is scheduled to begin today in the trial for two men accused of shooting a Clairton police officer last year.
Emilio Rivera, 27, of McKees Rocks, and Marcus Andrejco, 19, of Rankin, are charged with attempted homicide, robbery and aggravated assault for the April 4, 2011, incident on Miller Avenue in Clairton.
According to investigators, the two men forced their way into a home there and fired at Officer James Kuzak, who was one of the first people on the scene.
He was shot five times and paralyzed.
Mr. Andrejco was arrested in four days, but it wasn't until six months later that Mr. Rivera was arrested after officers listening on a wiretap said they heard him planning a similar robbery in which he wanted to have someone killed in Crafton.
The case was supposed to go to trial in May -- 11 jurors had already been selected -- when Mr. Rivera, who had been represented by a court-appointed attorney, instead hired Paul Gettleman to represent him.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Borkowski postponed the trial so Mr. Gettleman could prepare the case.
Both defendants gave confessions to investigators, and both had asked the judge to throw them out, arguing that they were illegally obtained.
Since the shooting, Officer Kuzak has stayed involved in local law enforcement activities and has been recognized in a number of area fundraisers.
He is actively involved in rehabilitation and physical therapy and hopes to someday walk again.
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2620. First Published July 23, 2012 4:00 AM