Trial starts in 2012 North Versailles killing
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Assistant District Attorney Edward Scheid could not offer any motive to the jury for why the defendant shot a young man from just a few feet away in a friend's kitchen.
But he did tell the members of the panel that it was murder.
"This shooting was not accidental," said Mr. Scheid during his opening statement Tuesday in the trial of Seth Dillon. "Seth Dillon is a murderer."
Mr. Dillon, 21, of North Versailles, is charged with killing Shawn Januck, 18, of Wilmerding on April 6.
Mr. Scheid told the jury that the defendant should be convicted of third-degree murder.
But defense attorney Patrick Thomassey said during his opening statement that the cornerstone of murder is "malice," which does not exist in this case.
"These four young men, they're friends. People don't kill somebody for no reason," he said.
According to the prosecution, Mr. Dillon turned 21 on March 23, and the next day went out and purchased a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.
On April 6, he did target shooting with the gun at a dump near his home, and took it with him that evening when he went out.
A friend, Ben Livingston, picked him up, and they stopped at a liquor store, where Mr. Dillon bought a fifth of vodka, and began drinking from it in the car, Mr. Scheid said.
They then arrived at Mr. Livingston's home on Lydia Street in North Versailles. Mr. Januck was already there with Mr. Livingston's brother, Zachary.
Mr. Scheid told the jury that Mr. Dillon took the gun from his waistband, took out its ammunition clip and passed the gun around for the group to look at.
He and Ben Livingston left the house for a short time, then returned.
The two brothers had gone into the living room when, moments later, they heard a single gunshot in the kitchen.
Zachary Livingston was the first to get back in the room.
"He sees Shawn Januck sliding down the kitchen cabinets," Mr. Scheid said.
The defendant was standing three or four feet away with the gun in his hand.
"The first words from Seth Dillon's mouth were, 'he shot himself.' "
But Zachary Livingston said that wasn't true. "The next words from the defendant's mouth were, 'I didn't know it was loaded,' " Mr. Scheid said.
As Zachary Livingston tried to call 911, Mr. Dillon grabbed the phone out of his hand and threw it in another room, the prosecutor continued.
" 'You guys gotta help me. I don't know what to do. Tell the police that a stranger came in here,' " Mr. Dillon told his friends to say.
At some point after Zachary Livingston was on the phone with 911, Mr. Scheid said, the defendant fired a second shot, which was heard by a responding officer.
Mr. Dillon and Ben Livingston were in a struggle when the officer arrived, but the defendant quickly dropped the weapon and was taken into custody.
Mr. Thomassey dismissed his client's statements afterward, telling the jury that the young man panicked.
"Of course he panics," he said. "Have any of you seen someone who just got shot?"
During his client's interview with the police, Mr. Dillon said he didn't know how the gun went off. "Nobody knows what happened in that room between these two kids except that a gun went off," Mr. Thomassey said. "They want you to speculate. They want you to make these great leaps."
First Published February 27, 2013 12:00 am