Thursday, April 16, 2009

PA: Shenandoah beating death trial will begin April 27

Shenandoah beating death trial will begin April 27 | | The Republican-Herald
Two of three teenagers charged in the fatal beating of an illegal Mexican immigrant in July in Shenandoah are scheduled to go to trial April 27, Schuylkill County officials announced Monday.

In a case that has attracted international attention, Brandon J. Piekarsky and Derrick M. Donchak — but not co-defendant Colin J. Walsh — will take their seats in Courtroom 1 at 9:30 a.m. on that date before jurors and President Judge William E. Baldwin.

“We’re estimating the total trial will take about two weeks,” District Attorney James P. Goodman said Monday.

Jury selection will begin April 22; Baldwin has set aside three days for that process, in which Piekarsky and Donchak, along with their lawyers and prosecutors, will select the 12 jurors and four alternates who will hear the case.

Baldwin said Monday he will do individual voir dire, or questioning, of the prospective jurors.

Court Administrator Lois A. Wallauer said her office has sent 625 juror summonses for the case.

Walsh had been scheduled to be tried with Piekarsky and Donchak, but his name is not mentioned in the press release from Wallauer announcing the trial and jury selection dates. Goodman declined to comment on why Walsh is not being tried with the other two, and Roger R. Laguna Jr., Harrisburg, Walsh’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment. There was no indication Monday on the Schuylkill County Court electronic docket of Walsh’s case that charges against him have been dropped, and no indication on computerized federal court records that any charges have been filed against him in U.S. District Court.

Schuylkill County detectives charged the three with assaulting, and Piekarsky and Walsh with killing, Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala, 25, of Shenandoah, on July 12. Ramirez died two days later at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.

Detectives also allege that all three yelled racial epithets at Ramirez during the beating. Piekarsky and Walsh, each of whom is 17 and from Shenandoah Heights, are charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, simple assault and ethnic intimidation. Piekarsky also is charged with criminal solicitation/hindering apprehension or prosecution and purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor.

The most serious degree of homicide they face is third-degree murder. If convicted of that, each faces a potential maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in a state correctional institution....

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