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Briefs: Boyfriend convicted for fatal shooting |

Briefs: Boyfriend convicted for fatal shooting

| Friday, April 21, 2006 12:00 a.m

An Allegheny County judge on Thursday convicted a Bell Acres man of third-degree murder for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend in their home.

Phanthanomn “Tom” Phommaxaysy, 44, faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced July 17 by Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning.

Phommaxaysy, a native of Laos, admitted that he killed Susan Stephens, 47, during a December 2004 argument. A psychiatrist testified during the nonjury trial that Phommaxaysy suffered from a brief psychotic episode that was brought on by the impending end of his relationship with Stephens.

NorthRossGuilty plea entered in four bank robberies

A former Ross man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to four counts of bank robbery.

John Patrick Lynch, 45, who lived on Second Avenue, robbed the Citizens Bank branch on Yost Boulevard in Braddock Hills on July 9; the Parkvale Savings Bank branch on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill on July 11; the Citizens Bank branch along Rodi Road in Penn Hills on July 13; and the Citizens Bank branch along Route 30 in Irwin, Westmoreland County, on July 17, prosecutors said.

Lynch is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 18. He faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.

ShalerKittanning Street work scheduled

Kittanning Street, where it intersects with Route 8 in Shaler, is scheduled to be limited to an alternating single lane tonight and Saturday.

Flaggers will direct traffic through the construction zone from 7 tonight until 10 p.m. Saturday.

Workers plan to replace concrete and install traffic signal sensors, which is part of PennDOT’s $14.9 million reconstruction of Route 8 at the Mae West Bend.

SouthCollier I-79 work scheduled near Kirwan Heights

A PennDOT contractor plans to start working on Interstate 79’s Kirwan Heights exit ramps today.

The ramp shoulders, or sides, are scheduled to be repaved today. On Saturday, northbound and southbound motorists exiting the highway will have to merge before reaching the traffic signal at the Route 50 intersection. Northbound motorists will have to stop at the merge point. Southbound motorists will not have to stop.

Work is scheduled to be completed by Saturday afternoon. The contractor, Trumbull Corp., of West Mifflin, is preparing to replace the bridge at the exit and install new retaining walls. PennDOT hired Trumbull for $93 million to reconstruct about six miles of the interstate between Bridgeville and Crafton.

Mon ValleyWest MifflinWomen’s heart health exhibit to tour in area

A traveling exhibit about women’s heart health has made the Pittsburgh area one of three national stops to spread awareness of heart disease.

The Heart Truth Road Show, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, will make a three-day stop at Century III Mall this weekend to give free screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and body mass index.

There also will be a display of six designer red dresses worn by celebrities, including model Christie Brinkley, singer Lee Ann Womack and “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul. The red dress is a national symbol for women and heart disease.

The show hours will be 3 to 9 p.m. today and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the mall, 3075 Clairton Road, West Mifflin.

Allegheny ValleyWest Deer1 killed, 3 injured in car accident

A New Kensington man was killed, and three people were injured in a single-vehicle accident shortly after midnight Thursday along Bakerstown-Culmerville Road in West Deer.

Anthony Brian DeSanto, 29, of New Kensington, was thrown from a Jeep Cherokee that smashed into a tree and then slammed into a utility pole 30 feet away, police said.

The force ejected DeSanto and Brian Helsel, 24, of 309 Mohawk Drive, Arnold, who were passengers, police said. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office said DeSanto’s death was caused by head and pelvic injuries. Helsel was listed in critical condition Thursday at UPMC Presbyterian hospital, Oakland, with extensive head injuries. The driver, Matthew Enciso, 24, of New Kensington, and a third passenger, Karly Rae Chiappetta, 28, of Plum, also were injured.

EastPlumAccident injuries are fatal to woman

An Upper Burrell woman died Thursday from injuries she sustained Wednesday afternoon in a collision along Route 286, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office said.

She was identified as Pamela Hartzell, 47, of Upper Burrell. An autopsy is planned for today.

Police said Hartzell’s westbound car collided shortly after noon with an eastbound truck that was carrying portable toilets.

Plum police and Allegheny County homicide detectives are investigating, Plum police Chief Robert Payne said. Hartzell died in an unidentified Pittsburgh hospital.

Allegheny CountySite offers information on assessment appeals

Allegheny County property owners who plan to appeal their 2006 assessments have a new tool to help them prepare.

On Thursday, the County Office of Property Assessment posted “Tips for 2006 Assessment Appeal Hearings” to its Web site.

The tip sheet, which the office cautioned is not meant to replace Assessment Board rules, lists hints for making an accurate, concise presentation to the board. Tips include what to bring to a hearing, clarifying property data and what to do if a homeowner cannot attend a hearing.

The tip sheet can be found at

CityPittsburghState lawmakers plan K. Leroy Irvis tribute

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will conduct a tribute Tuesday for the late K. Leroy Irvis, the former House speaker who died in March.

From 1959 to 1988, Irvis represented the 19th District of Pittsburgh, and he became the nation’s first black speaker of a state house of representatives when he was unanimously elected to the position in 1977. He was 86 when he died March 16.

The tribute will start at 1:30 p.m. in the Hall of the House in Harrisburg. Seating will be available in the House gallery and on the House floor.

Man faces charges in 3 pharmacy robberies

Pittsburgh police’s robbery squad charged a Richland man Thursday in connection with the robberies of three pharmacies in the city and is investigating whether he is responsible in four others that have occurred this month.

Scott Waxter, 34, whose last known address was in the 200 block of Haymont Drive, was arrested by Scott police earlier this week on attempted robbery charges related to two pharmacies there. His description matched that of the suspect in the seven pharmacy robberies in the city, and he was out on bond with charges related to a number of pharmacy robberies in the North Hills, Scott police said.

Waxter was awaiting arraignment yesterday in night court.

City manual clarifies tap-in procedures

Figuring out how to legally tap into Pittsburgh water and sewer lines just got easier.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority on Thursday released a 144-page procedures manual that brings together all the necessary paperwork for architects, developers and contractors. Anyone building or renovating in the city needs to be up to code with the authority’s rules and regulations.

The manual now is available at the authority’s permit counter at 441 Smithfield St., by mail or on the authority’s Web site,

Police review board to meet Tuesday

The Citizen Police Review Board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at the City-County Building, 414 Grant St., Downtown.

The meeting’s agenda will include opportunity for public comment. Anyone wishing to address the board must sign in. A group wishing to express a collective opinion should consider naming a spokesperson. The chair may impose a time limit to assure equal opportunity to all who wish to speak.

Board members want to strengthen their outreach by becoming more visible in Pittsburgh’s communities. They will meet with community groups that want to discuss strategies for improving police-community relationships.

To host a monthly meeting or have a review board speaker do a presentation, call 412-765-8023. RegionWashington CountyState DEP fines mineral refining firm

A company that used to operate in Washington County must pay almost $500,000 and was ordered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to treat ground and stormwater poisoned by toxic metals.

For most of the 20th century, Molycorp — a mineral mining and refining company based in Brea, Calif. — produced metallurgic products in Canton Township by extracting metals from an ore containing radioactive thorium and uranium. Slag containing the radioactive metals was dumped on site and molybdenum, a metallic mineral that is toxic in large amounts, contaminated groundwater.

The company was fined $250,000 for water violations and charged $225,000 for the costs to monitor and supervise remediation efforts. The money will go to the state’s Clean Water Fund. Molycorp is decommissioning the site, which closed in 2001.

Armstrong CountySmoke inhalation blamed in fire death

An Armstrong County woman was found dead in her home during a fire early Thursday.

Firefighters entered the Dayton home about 6:10 a.m. and found the body of Virginia Lee Pennington, 67, Armstrong County Coroner Robert Bower said.

Pennington, who was found in the living room, died of smoke inhalation. The coroner said Pennington, who smoked and used supplemental oxygen, lived alone in the house. The fire destroyed the living room. A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause.

Greene CountyPrison term ordered for animal skin sales

A Greene County man was sentenced in federal court in Miami on Thursday to 25 months in prison and three years’ probation for selling more than $200,000 worth of tiger, snow leopard and jaguar skins, as well as gorilla skulls and tiger mounts, from a Web site and store he operated in Florida.

Kevin McMasters, 35, who now lives in Greensboro, operated the shop and Internet site while living in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The sales occurred between 2003 and 2004, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Selling the animal parts is illegal because they are from federally protected wildlife.

Agents busted McMasters after purchasing a pair of Bengal tiger skins for $15,300, a snow leopard skin for $7,000 and a clouded leopard skin for $4,500.

StateCandidate breaks ties with PACleanSweep

Independent gubernatorial hopeful Russ Diamond said Thursday he is making a “clean break” from the anti-incumbency group, PACleanSweep, which he founded last July.

Diamond resigned as chairman and a board member of the group that has been wracked by recent internal strife. Dissident board members opposed Diamond’s seeking of statewide office while running PACleanSweep. Diamond, of Annville, Lebanon County, announced his candidacy for governor last week.

About three dozen state legislative candidates endorsed by PACleanSweep appeared with Diamond at a Capitol news conference.

Diamond created the organization to oppose the now-repealed legislative pay hike. The group helped recruit candidates to challenge incumbents in the May 16 primary.


  • In Elliott, the West End Elliot Citizens Council Candidates Night will begin at 7 p.m. Monday at Thaddeus Stevens School, 822 Crucible St.

    Doors will open at 6:15, and everyone is welcome.

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