ShareThis Page
Homicide charge dropped in North Side case |

Homicide charge dropped in North Side case

| Saturday, November 22, 2008 12:00 p.m

Prosecutors on Friday dropped a homicide charge against a North Side man less than three weeks after a witness to the killing was shot dead.

Devon Shealey, 22, was scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing for the Sept. 28 fatal shooting of Jason Brown, 30.

Justen Anderson, 19, of the North Side was standing next to Brown at the time. Anderson was cooperating with Pittsburgh homicide detectives when he, too, was fatally shot earlier this month.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office would not comment on whether Anderson’s death prompted them to drop the homicide charge, but city police did say they had sought to delay the case as they gathered more evidence. Shealey is still being held on robbery charges.

“Time wasn’t on our side,” said Pittsburgh police Lt. Daniel Herrmann. “There are people out there (to talk to), it’s just, nowadays, to get people to cooperate and testify, it’s kind of tough. You can’t blame them, with all the retaliation that’s happening.”

Police likely will be able to refile the homicide charge and are investigating whether Shealey played any role in Anderson’s slaying, Herrmann said.

Police had said Shealey approached Brown as the victim smoked marijuana on North Charles Street in the North Side. Shealey asked if he could smoke some, and as Brown handed him the joint, Shealey pulled out a gun and shot him, according to detectives.

Anderson died on Nov. 5. His mother said they had just discussed Barack Obama’s election as president when, according to police, one bullet came through the window, striking Anderson in the arm and chest.

Members of the U.S. Marshal’s Western Pennsylvania Fugitive Task Force arrested Shealey the next evening in Northview Heights. City police had said they would question him in Anderson’s death, but no charges were filed.

Relatives of both shooting victims had said they believed Anderson was killed for helping police. He had declined an offer for witness-protection services, according to police.

Shealey faces several robbery and firearms charges, court records show. He committed four armed robberies in the Strip District in May, Herrmann said.

Anderson gave police a statement implicating Shealey, and they want to find at least one witness who independently heard Anderson’s account of Brown’s killing, Herrmann said.

“It’s not that we have a lot of witnesses out there. We have a few witnesses that lend … one or two pieces of the puzzle,” he said. “We’ll work on it, and it will take a while, until people feel more secure.”

Categories: News
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.