ShareThis Page
Man accused of killing New Kensington cop presses to marry potential witness |

Man accused of killing New Kensington cop presses to marry potential witness

| Tuesday, August 21, 2018 5:36 p.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Accused Cop Killer Rehmael Sal Holt, is escorted from District Court Justice Frank PaloneÕs office after his preliminary Hearing.Wednesday Dec 13, 2017.

Attorneys for Rahmael Sol Holt, the man accused of killing a New Kensington police officer last year, on Tuesday asked a Westmoreland County judge to allow their client to move forward with plans to marry a witness prosecutors want to testify against him.

Holt, 30, of Harrison, is being held in the county jail without bond as he awaits trial for first-degree murder and other offenses in connection with the November shooting death of officer Brian Shaw. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty against Holt.

District Attorney John Peck last month asked a judge to bar Holt from seeking a marriage license — a preemptive move based on anonymous reports that a wedding was in the works.

Defense lawyers Tim Dawson and James Robinson filed court documents Tuesday saying that Holt does intend to marry his fiance, Vanessa Portis, a woman prosecutors said is a key witness against Holt. They want Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway to allow Holt to be transported to the courthouse and apply for a marriage license in person at the Register of Wills office or from the county jail via video conferencing.

“Defendant further requests that he be permitted to marry his fiance during his incarceration by an official or judge authorized by law to perform a marriage ceremony in Pennsylvania…,” Dawson and Robinson wrote.

Hathaway in July issued a temporary order that barred Holt from obtaining a marriage license. As of Tuesday, she had yet to schedule a hearing on the matter.

The prosecution contends Portis drove Holt to various locations after the shooting. Holt was subject of a four-day manhunt by police after Shaw was killed following a traffic stop in New Kensington. They eventually captured him in Pittsburgh.

The defense said the proposed marriage would not prevent Portis from testifying at Holt’s trial because she is likely to be called as a defense witness. Dawson and Robinson said in court documents that Holt did not flee the murder scene.

“It is admitted that Vanessa Portis transported (Holt) from the New Kensington area back home on the night at issue,” they said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.