2 men facing trial in 1977 homicide

16-year-old Washington County girl was victim

More than 33 years after the bludgeoned, nude, frozen body of Mary Irene Gency was discovered in a Fallowfield hay field, two men were ordered to stand trial in the killing of the 16-year-old North Charleroi girl.

District Judge Mark Wilson ruled Wednesday the testimony of 10 witnesses called during a 61/2-hour preliminary hearing in Washington County Central Court was sufficient to hold David B. Davoli of Charleroi and Robert W. Urwin Jr. of Dunlevy, both 53, for trial in the brutal February 1977 slaying. But Judge Wilson agreed with defense attorneys that there wasn't enough evidence to show the defendants conspired in the killing so he dropped a criminal conspiracy charge against them.

Joseph C. Francis, attorney for Mr. Urwin, said he was pleased Judge Wilson dropped the conspiracy charge and said he would seek separate trials for the defendants. Mr. Francis said that could help him in his quest to prove the innocence of his client, who had been Ms. Gency's 20-year-old boyfriend until shortly before she went missing.

"We're going to fight this to the end. My client denies he did anything to hurt her. They were high school sweethearts. He loved her," Mr. Francis said.

As for Mr. Davoli, there was a sense of deja vu -- he was arrested in the homicide in July 1977 and shortly thereafter was held for trial after a preliminary hearing. But a Washington County judge, sitting in the same courtroom as the site of Wednesday's hearing, subsequently ruled at a habeas corpus hearing there wasn't enough evidence to proceed to trial and dropped the charges.

Jeffrey Watson, Mr. Davoli's attorney now, unsuccessfully argued during Wednesday's hearing that "the evidence is as scant today as it was in 1977."

After the hearing, he said "the evidence will bear out that David Davoli is not responsible."

Ms. Gency, a sophomore at Charleroi Area High School, disappeared Feb. 13, 1977, after eating dinner at home.

Six days later, her nude body was found in a remote area off Gun Club Road in Fallowfield. An autopsy showed she died from multiple skull fractures inflicted by a heavy object and she was about six weeks pregnant. The autopsy indicated she may have been raped but authorities could not say so conclusively.

State police Cpl. Beverly J. Ashton testified Wednesday the arrests of the defendants last month were possible because of significant advances in DNA technology, which made it possible to match genetic material on Ms. Gency's underwear, which were found near the body, to both suspects and on her blue jeans, found a distance away, to Mr. Urwin.

Mr. Davoli had repeatedly told investigators he never had sex with Ms. Gency and did not see her the night she went missing. But at Wednesday's hearing, Trooper Frederick Gregg testified that after he was arrested, Mr. Davoli admitted to being with Ms. Gency. He said he had smoked a marijuana cigarette with her at Charleroi Area High School and then drove to Gun Club Road where she performed oral sex on him.

He said she got out of his car to go to the bathroom and never returned so he left, Trooper Gregg testified.

Mr. Urwin had told investigators he had broken up with Ms. Gency and had stopped having sex with her about a month before she went missing, Cpl. Ashton testified.

Two brothers who had testified against Mr. Davoli 33 years ago did so again Thursday. David Kash said his brother had driven him to Isaly's in Charleroi and as he was going into the store he saw Ms. Gency, a classmate, coming out. His brother, Aaron, who had waited in the car, said he saw the girl who came out of the store get in a car with David Davoli, who made a "smoking motion" by pinching together his thumb and forefinger and putting them to his lips. He said Mr. Davoli was alone in the car.

But William F. Smith testified that he saw Mr. Davoli with his car stopped at the Isaly's and Miss Gency leaning into it and talking to Mr. Urwin in the back seat. Another man, George Poskon, was in the front seat, he said.

Mr. Smith said he told his story 33 years ago to Charleroi police and said they told him they would pass it on to state police investigators but he never heard from them. He said he decided to contact state police after attending a class reunion in 2004 and he told what he saw to Miss Gency's sister and she urged him to contact investigators.

Michael A. Fuoco: mfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1968. First Published June 10, 2010 4:00 AM


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