WILKES-BARRE, Pennsylvania — Attorneys for a suspect in a triple slaying that northeastern Pennsylvania prosecutors allege occurred during a botched drug deal last summer say their client should be tried in juvenile court.
The 17-year-old defendant is charged in Luzerne County along with his 19-year-old half-brother Shawn Hamilton in the July 7 shootings in a Plymouth apartment.
Prosecutors allege that the pair killed 21-year-old Bradley Swartwood, 17-year-old Nicholas Maldonado and 15-year-old Lisa Abaunza. Maldonaldo's 19-year-old brother, who was wounded, testified at a pretrial hearing that the victims were shot after Hamilton demanded that they empty their pockets.
Defense attorneys William Watt and John Pike say their client, who was 16 at the time of the crime, should be tried as a juvenile because he poses no threat to the safety of others and had a "limited degree of culpability." They also say statements he gave to state police and a prison guard should be tossed out, alleging that he wasn't advised of his rights, are also asking the court to separate his case from that of Hamilton and to move it out of the county because of pretrial publicity.
Prosecutors have not responded to the motions filed Friday.
Hamilton has said his half-brother is innocent and that he fired the shots in self-defense. Prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty against Hamilton, who is also charged in the slaying of 22-year-old Kenyatta Hughston, who had been shot the day before the triple murder and succumbed to his injuries in October.