Former Duquesne Basketball Player, Nick Washington, Innocent

Click the link below to listen to Nick’s story

For 18 months, I had been accused of crimes I did not commit’: Former Duquesne University basketball player talks about rape charges being dropped

Below is the real story and why the DA had evidentiary issues.

K. B. is no longer an “alleged victim of sexual assault”.  She wasn’t a victim September 2017 and certainly is not a victim now.   K.B. was not forced to accept the plea agreement. She chose to accept the offer as recommended to her by the Commonwealth.

Nicholas Washington never asked for a plea agreement and was prepared to go to trial.  The unsolicited offer was submitted to Mr. Washington’s by the District Attorney’s Office, days before trial was to begin.  The Commonwealth encouraged K.B. to accept the plea because her unsubstantiated claims were simply incredible and the evidence did not support her story.

It was  her idea to go back to the dorm room, with the intent to have consensual sex.  It was K.B. who told the police she never said no.

K. B. did not want to expose herself to the truth in open court so she read her victim impact statement, knowing she would not be subject to cross examination.  That cross examination would have included questions regarding her own statements on the night of the incident.  It would have included statements she gave to the police, which were stipulated to by the prosecution, that Mr. Washington was innocent of the allegations and had done nothing wrong.

Whether you are a prosecuting attorney or a defense attorney, we are all bound by certain ethical duties.  As a prosecutor those duties include, refraining from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause.  If there had been probable cause, there would have been absolutely no reason to withdraw the charges.  Had the Commonwealth believed her story, that alone could have provided support to proceed in the prosecution.  Had this case proceeded to trial it would have been clear that Ms. Battin fabricated her story.  It would have been abundantly clear that what she alleged was completely false.

If the justice system failed, it failed Nick Washington.  For 18 months his life was put on hold.  Between the time of the allegation and the day conveying an offer nothing had changed.  Probable cause to support the charges never existed.

Mr. Washington pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct, which is the lowest level, non-sexually related misdemeanor in Pennsylvania.  Mr. Washington pleaded guilty despite his innocence, only due to the inherent risks of going to trial as a young black man.

Case Withdrawn

It took almost a year to obtain justice, but finally the case was dismissed.  Ms. Busia was wrongly charged with a number of serious felony offenses by an over zealous officer.  She lost her job, had to fight for her unemployment, and has suffered unimaginable embarrassment from the start.  After succeeding in her unemployment hearings and a lot of hard work and patience, Ms. Busia’s case is over.  The entire case was withdrawn by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office as we were prepared to pick a jury on January 16, 2019.

Steven Townsend

 

WPXI Report

Aliquippa Investigation Continues to Derail

Aliquippa Assistant Police Chief Joseph Perciavalle III is facing a second criminal charge in connection with content found on his cell phone as part of the investigation into the death of teacher Rachael DelTondo, according to court records.

Assistant Chief Perciavalle, 43, of Aliquippa, is accused of secretly recording a 39-minute conversation between himself and police Chief Donald Couch on March 2, according to a criminal complaint. That’s the same day that Pennsylvania State Police executed a search warrant on Aliquippa city officesin connection with a grand jury investigation into allegations of theft.

In the recorded conversation, the pair discussed Aliquippa police, the pension fund, high school football and other topics, according to the complaint.

In Pennsylvania, one person cannot record a conversation with another person without both people’s permission. Chief Couch told investigators on June 29 that he never gave Assistant Chief Perciavalle permission to record the conversation.

Rachael DelTondo

Assistant Chief Perciavalle is charged with a single count of intercepting communications, a felony.

His attorney, Steven Townsend, said Tuesday that the complaint is “as written completely false.”

“There is a conversation on his cell phone, there’s no denying that, but the way it was recorded is definitely not as the affidavit reads,” Mr. Townsend said, adding that Assistant Chief Perciavalle denies any wrongdoing.

“I can’t get into specifics because there are other investigations going on,” the attorney said. “But there are certain exceptions under the wiretap act in which someone can be recorded — one [is] being in a public place, which this was.”

The complaint said Assistant Chief Perciavalle and Chief Couch “rode together on patrol” during the recorded conversation. Mr. Townsend said the pair was never in the same car.

“My client and Couch were not in the same patrol car when this conversation took place,” he said, and declined to elaborate.

Assistant Chief Perciavalle was also arrested in June on a separate felony charge of sending a sexually explicit video to a 17-year-old girl who later became a witness in Ms. DelTondo’s killing.

Aliquippa assistant police chief charged with sending sexually explicit material to minor

Authorities reviewed Assistant Chief Perciavalle’s phone records as part of the homicide investigation and discovered that he sent a video of a female urinating on a swing to the girl on May 10.

Assistant Chief Perciavalle was charged with sending the explicit video on June 8, two days after he took over as acting chief of the police department. He took leadership after Chief Couch was placed on paid administrative leave by city council for an unspecified reason that is not connected to the DelTondo investigation.

After Assistant Chief Perciavalle was arrested on June 8, longtime Capt. Robert Sealock was promoted to acting chief. He remains in the role.

Assistant Chief Perciavalle is scheduled to appear for preliminary hearings in both cases on Aug. 20.

Shelly Bradbury: 412-263-1999, sbradbury@post-gazette.com or follow @ShellyBradbury on Twitter. 

First Published July 10, 2018, 1:05pm

Supreme Court Strikes Down Strict Texas Abortion Law

Supreme Court
Supreme Court Abortion Decision

Strict Abortion Law Stricken

By: Pete Williams

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down one of the nation’s toughest restrictions on abortion, a Texas law that women’s groups said would have forced more than three-quarters of the state’s clinics to shut down.

The decision was 5-3.

Passed in 2013, the law said clinics providing abortion services must meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers. And it required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Since the law was passed, the number of clinics providing abortion services in Texas dropped to 19 from 42. Opponents said that number would fall to ten if the Supreme Court upheld the law.

The Center for Reproductive Rights called the law “an absolute sham,” arguing that abortion patients rarely require hospitalization and that many patients simply take two pills.

  • Abortion Rights Advocate: ‘Women Across America Constitutional Rights Vindicated’ 

Justice Stephen G. Breyer in writing the majority opinion said “neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the Federal Constitution.”

Breyer was joined in the majority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Anthony M. Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas dissented.

In writing his dissent, Alito said “The Court favors petitioners with a victory that they did not have the audacity to seek.”

“If anything, when a case involves a controversial issue, we should be especially careful to be scrupulously neutral in applying such rules,” Alito wrote. “The Court has not done so here. On the contrary, de­termined to strike down two provisions of a new Texas abortion statute in all of their applications, the Court simply disregards basic rules that apply in all other cases.”

Thomas in his own strident dissent criticized what he sees as “the Court’s troubling tendency ‘to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue’.”

Pro-choice advocates dance outside the Supreme Court where justices are weighing a case that imposes heavy restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas on June 26. JIM LO SCALZO / EPA

Surgical patients undergo a ten-minute procedure without general anesthesia in the outpatient setting of a doctor’s office or clinic, the group said, and complications from abortion are extremely rare.

Texas defended the restrictions, saying that states have wide discretion to pass laws in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty. The state said the law was passed “to ensure patient safety and raise standards of care.”

The court’s decision will affect similar laws in twelve other states, some now on hold because of court challenges. The restrictions in Texas represented a new front in efforts to restrict abortion by focusing on protecting the health and safety of the mother rather than the life of the fetus.

Wide-shot of courtroom on last day of opinions, 2015-16 Term. Art Lien

At the heart of the case was the standard for assessing abortion limits first announced by the Supreme Court in 1992. State laws cannot create an “undue burden” on a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy before the fetus attains viability, it said then.

A law imposes such a burden, the court said in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, if its “purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path” of a woman seeking to exercise that right.

Planned Parenthood celebrated the ruling.

“We are thrilled that these dangerous provisions have been struck down,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a statement. “This is a win for women. Every person must have the right to make their own personal decisions about abortion, and we will fight like hell to ensure they do.”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton weighed in on the ruling via Twitter saying the decision “is a victory for women in Texas and across America. Safe abortion should be a right—not just on paper, but in reality.”

Police: Use of Excessive Force

Another example of using Excessive Force

Stephen-Matakovich

http://www.wtae.com/news/pittsburgh-police-sergeant-seen-in-controversial-heinz-field-arrest-video-fired/38300198

Pittsburgh police sergeant seen in controversial Heinz Field arrest video fired

 

The city has fired Pittsburgh police Sgt. Stephen Matakovich, who was suspended after the violent arrest of an allegedly intoxicated man during the WPIAL football championships at Heinz Field. Wednesday, Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich upheld an earlier decision by Police Chief Cameron McLay that Matakovich had appealed.

 

Matakovich is out of his job, but he has one last avenue to try to win it back.

VIDEO: Watch Bob Mayo’s report

“We have faith in both Sgt Matakovich’s criminal defense attorneys as well as the criminal justice system. The FOP will continue the internal process, which is arbitration at this point,” police union local President Howard McQuillan told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.

 

Attorney Bryan Campbell, who represents the FOP, believes the union can win back Matakovich’s job.

 

“He wants to remain on the department. He’s been on the department for a long time. He’s a very responsible supervisor, he’s well-liked by the officers,” Campbell said.

 

Matakovich also faces re-filed criminal charges for his conduct captured on Heinz Field security video. Charges of simple assault and official oppression were dismissedby a district judge at Matakovich’s preliminary hearing Feb. 1. The district attorney’s office later refiled those charges, along with a felony count of perjury. The charges were filed after Matakovich was seen on surveillance video striking Gabriel Despres, then 19, during an arrest on charges of trespass, public drunkenness and underage drinking Nov. 28.

 

Campbell says the union can argue the firing is not for just cause and is not warranted by Matakovich’s history.

 

“It’s the FOP’s position that, one, no discipline should have been given here, and secondly, even if there was to be discipline, it wouldn’t rise to the level of a termination.”

 

“It is solely related to an incident that he himself was involved in, and the choices he made in that encounter. This is the consequence of that choice,” said Elizabeth Pittinger,executive director of the city’s Citizens Police Review Board.

 

The CPRB is an independent watchdog agency that was created by voters in a referendum.

 

“That’s not the way Pittsburgh police officers are expected — or now, it’s been re-enforced, will not be permitted —  to conduct themselves in the name of the city,” Pittinger said. “The situation reflected so poorly on all the rest of  the officers that are out there doing their job properly with compassion every single day.”

 

Some Matakovich supporters have set up a GoFundMe webpage to raise money to help his family.

 

“I can understand why a lot of officers would want to contribute because Sgt. Matakovich is a popular person,” Campbell said.

 

The GoFundMe page claims “he was recently caught up in the mass hysteria that is the anti-police movement in this country.”

 

“Hardly. He got caught up in his own conduct.,” responded Pittinger. “A police officer conducting himself in an extremely unbecoming manner, so much so that it resulted in criminal charges. That’s not mass hysteria or anti-police. It’s anti-bullying and it’s anti-excessive force.

 

“He’s a very responsible supervisor, he’s well-liked by the officers, they feel that they feel safe working for him. They feel that he has very good judgment and that this is unwarranted,” Campbell said.

 

“At the direction of my legal counsel, I am not making any statements and will not give any interviews,” Matakovich told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.

 

Even with a request to expedite the appeal, it could be 45 days before an arbitration appeal hearing for Matakovich.

 

He faces a complicated path ahead, dealing with both the Police Bureau action and the criminal charges, noted Pittinger. “It’s an unfortunate situation all around. There are no winners here. Unfortunately, Stephen Matakovich made some decisions in November that have resulted in this outcome. He’s no longer a Pittsburgh police officer.”

 

Supreme Court says convicted felons can sell their guns

Supreme Court says convicted felons can sell their guns

 By By SAM HANANEL

WASHINGTON (AP) — A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that the government can’t prevent a convicted felon who is barred from possessing firearms from trying to sell his guns after they are confiscated by authorities.

The justices sided with Tony Henderson, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent who agreed to turn over his collection of 19 firearms to the FBI as a condition of release after he was arrested and charged with distributing marijuana.

After he pleaded guilty, Henderson wanted to sell the weapons valued at more than $3,500 to a friend, or transfer them to his wife. But lower courts found that doing so would technically give Henderson possession of the weapons in violation of the law. Prosecutors also said they were concerned that Henderson’s friend or wife might give him access to the weapons.

Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said letting a convicted felon sell or transfer guns is allowed as long as a court is satisfied that the person getting the weapons won’t give the felon control over them.

“A felon cannot evade the strictures of (the law) by arranging a sham transfer that leaves him in effective control of his guns,” Kagan said.

Kagan said the district court could have ordered the guns turned over to a federally-licensed firearms dealer, who would sell them with proceeds going to Henderson. She said the lower court also could allow Henderson to transfer the guns to another person who will not allow him “to exert any influence over their use.”

She said the government’s reading of the law goes too far in saying Henderson would illegally “possess” the weapons just by being allowed to sell them.

The case had drawn the attention of gun-rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, which argued that the government’s attempt to prohibit any sale or transfer prevents law-abiding citizens who want to buy the guns from doing so.

Coraopolis Police Chief To Stand Trial In Violent Crash Case

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.16.09 PM

 

The Coraopolis police chief pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges connected with a crash on University Boulevard that left a woman seriously injured, and witnesses described what they saw moments before the crash.

 

Alan DeRusso is charged with aggravated assault by vehicle, recklessly endangering another person and a handful of driving violations after an August crash in neighboring Moon Township that sent him and another driver to the hospital.

VIDEO

Allegheny County police said in court papers that they could find no emergency that DeRusso would have been responding to that would have justified him running a red light on University Boulevard on the morning of Aug. 7.

 

The police chief was driving an unmarked police car toward Coraopolis when he crossed Thorn Run Road and T-boned a vehicle driven by Kristy Sue Grazier, who spent six days in the hospital with serious internal injuries and a concussion.

 

“Evidence will come out that 95 percent of calls that go through that borough are not by 911 or dispatch, they’re on personal observations,” DeRusso’s attorney, Steven Townsend, said. “The fact that they didn’t find evidence of that does not mean the evidence is absent.”

 

DeRusso is still the police chief, but he’s been on administrative leave since the charges were filed Jan. 14.

 

Police interviewed several drivers who were nearby at the time of the crash. Townsend said those witness accounts are not consistent with each other.

 

“We’re not disputing that there was an accident,” Townsend said. “We’re not disputing that both parties were severely injured. But the fact that this accident occurred and the way it occurred does not rise to the level of a felony.”

 

Grazier has returned to work, but she is still not completely recovered from the crash and has surgery scheduled for next month, said her attorney, Bob Behling.

 

“We’ve been waiting for the results of this investigation, and Kristy is glad it coincides with her recollections of the events that day, that she was not at fault or responsible for the accident itself,” Behling said.

Pennsylvania death penalty moratorium challenged

Death Penalty —

"Old Main" NM State Penitentiary

[JURIST]  Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams filed a legal challenge [petition; press release] on Wednesday against Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s decision to place a moratorium on the death penalty. The challenge, filed in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, petitions the court to reject the reprieve as an unconstitutional intrusion of state executive power into the realm of the legislature and courts. In the press release, Williams stated, “[t]he people who are most grateful for this ‘moratorium’ on capital punishment are the guiltiest, cruelest, most vicious killers on death row.” The challenge comes in response to Wolf’s decision last Friday to stay all executions [JURIST report], calling the state justice system “error prone.” In issuing temporary reprieves for all death-row prisoners, Wolf’s decision has at least temporarily spared Terrance Williams from execution, a man whose case Seth Williams used in his challenge [AP report] as an explanation of the value of capital punishment. According to the DA’s petition, Williams bound and beat Amos Norwood, killing the man in 1984, a crime for which he was sentenced to death. Williams was scheduled by former governor Tom Corbett to be put to death on March 4.

 

Use of the death penalty [JURIST news archive] has been a controversial issue throughout the US and internationally. Earlier this week US Attorney General Eric Holder voiced his support [JURIST report] for a moratorium on the death penalty pending a decision by the Supreme Court in Glossip v. Gross [SCOTUSblog backgrounder]. The court granted certiorari [order, PDF] in late January to determine the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s three-drug execution protocol. Also in February the Utah House of Representatives narrowly approved House Bill 11 [JURIST report], which would allow for executions by firing squad. The goal of HB 11 is to provide an alternative execution method to lethal injection, as supplies of the traditional drugs have become scarce. Late last month a man with an IQ of 67 was executed [JURIST report] in Texas after the US Supreme Court denied two pleas for delay that same day. Earlier in January an Indiana senator proposed a bill to end the death penalty in the state, and the Washington state legislature proposed bills [JURIST reports] to eliminate the death penalty.

Ferrante Trial Continues

“I’m not so sure that they’ve proven this case,” said attorney Steve Townsend, who is not involved in Ferrante’s trial and is providing legal analysis for WTAE. “This is the sort of case where everyone feels like he did it, but can the commonwealth prove it? And do I think they’ve done enough in this case? That’s a tough call. It really is. I think the defense has an uphill battle coming for them next week, but I’m not sure right now that the jury is convinced.”

Print

Cyanide Poisoning Trial Day 7: Testimony includes husband-wife email, medical analysis

Dr. Robert Ferrante charged with homicide, accused of poisoning Dr. Autumn Klein; Follow #FerranteTrial on Twitter for updates
PITTSBURGH —A man with whom the prosecution says Dr. Robert Ferrante suspected his wife was cheating on him was called as a witness Friday in the seventh day of Ferrante’s homicide trial.

Also on Friday, an email was read in court about a trip that Ferrante’s wife, Dr. Autumn Klein, was scheduled to take.

VIDEO: Watch Marcie Cipriani’s report

In the email, which Ferrante sent to Klein on April 16, 2013 — the day before prosecutors claim he poisoned his wife — he wrote, “You seem to be in such a great mood up until last evening.” It went on to say, “I am obviously missing something here; it seems obvious to me now that you want to go to Boston alone.”

He told her he was sorry for inviting her parents to town and for suggesting the two of them get away together. The email went on to say, “My exuberance of going to Boston together and also having your mom celebrate Mother’s Day with us was perhaps too much. You know me. I think of the fun and not the work behind it.”

Prosecutors pointed out that “Boston” referred to a trip Klein was scheduled to make in May to visit her colleague, Dr. Thomas McElrath, who took the witness stand Friday morning.

Prosecutors say Ferrante was jealous of McElrath and did Internet searches on him.

McElrath told the jurors he and Klein attended a conference together a few months before she died, and that they had been colleagues who worked together for about eight years.

He told the jury he invited Klein and her husband to stay with him at his home, then told defense attorneys that he had never met Ferrante.

Prosecutors then called Jennifer Janssen, assistant chief toxicologist with the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, who discussed the blood samples that were taken after Klein was admitted to a hospital.

Janssen testified that Klein’s blood tested positive for cyanide and that the ME’s office was not aware of the problems NMS Labs had until days later.

She went on to explain that because of a time lapse from when the blood was drawn to the knowledge of problems with the lab, the decision was made to not send the blood to the Mayo Clinic — a move that the defense says should have been made to get an accurate reading.

Dr. Todd Luckasevic, who conducted Klein’s autopsy, testified that his examination and information from Quest Diagnostics led him to conclude that “Dr. Autumn Marie Klein died as a result of cyanide poisoning” and that her death was a homicide.

Defense attorney Bill Difenderfer aggressively questioned Luckasevic about that on cross-examination, asking, “There are a number of ways human beings can get cyanide in their system, correct?” The doctor agreed. Then Difenderfer asked, “It all looks the same, correct?” The witness agreed once again. Then the defense questioned how cyanide in Klein’s system means that she was murdered, adding, “You don’t know how it was put there, right?” The doctor replied, “Right.”

Marla Priestley, a fingerprint expert for the ME’s Office, testified that Ferrante’s print was on a bottle of cyanide seized from his lab.

When the trial resumes Monday morning, the prosecution will call its final expert witness, who was unable to attend court Friday.

“I’m not so sure that they’ve proven this case,” said attorney Steve Townsend, who is not involved in Ferrante’s trial and is providing legal analysis for WTAE. “This is the sort of case where everyone feels like he did it, but can the commonwealth prove it? And do I think they’ve done enough in this case? That’s a tough call. It really is. I think the defense has an uphill battle coming for them next week, but I’m not sure right now that the jury is convinced.”

Townsend said the Ferrante case has been full of testimony that may be tough for the jury to follow.

“I’m not sure a lot of it they’re comprehending,” he said. “I’m not sure a lot of it I’m comprehending, with the medical and technical jargon that’s going on in there, because I don’t think either side is doing a very good job of explaining it to the jury. What I do believe they’ll come away with is the emotional testimony and the medical examiner testimony, especially since the commonwealth’s witness today saying the cause of death is consistent with cyanide.”

Allegheny County DA

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office released the follow emails and fingerprint images from those entered in evidence today’s court proceedings against Dr. Robert Ferrante.
Read more: http://www.wtae.com/news/cyanide-poisoning-trial-day-7-begins-with-stunning-new-testimony/29456802#ixzz3IfTGlrxt

 

Local Doctor is Not Guilty – Prescription Drug Conspiracy

Doctor found not guilty of illegally prescribing medication

PIlls

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

A doctor who was charged with illegally prescribing medication to a staff member out of an East Liberty women’s clinic was found not guilty on all counts Wednesday.

John P. Barrett, 42, of Mt. Lebanon was charged in March with three counts, including selling a controlled substance, illegally dispensing and illegally administering a controlled substance.

According to the criminal complaint, the Allegheny Women’s Center, at 121 N. Highland Ave., which has since closed, was receiving large quantities of Diethylpropion, an obesity medication. There were approximately 20,000 pills unaccounted for over a four-year period from the clinic.

Investigators said they found the medicine was being used by Mark Wagner, a lab tech, who took it to treat anxiety and depression.

But prosecutors said Mr. Wagner was not a patient of Dr. Barrett, the clinic’s director, or Dr. Alton Lawson, and that the man’s psychiatrist was not aware he was taking the medication.

In July, Dr. Lawson pleaded guilty to two count of sale of a controlled substance and entered the court’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which will clear his record after nine month of successful probation.

Mr. Wagner pleaded guilty in May to five misdemeanor counts and was sentenced to five years probation. He told investigators that he used the drug but also sold it to a friend to help her lose weight.

Dr. Barrett had a nonjury trial before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani on Wednesday.

Defense attorney Steven C. Townsend called no witnesses, but argued to the court that even though his client’s DEA number was used to order medications for the clinic, that did not mean he was aware Mr. Wagner was using it, abusing it or not an actual patient of Dr. Lawson.