Judge: Prosecutors can’t have more time

HOLLIDAYSBURG – The judge who will preside during the upcoming trial of an Altoona man suspected of drug offenses said Thursday he wants the prosecution to present its case in six days.

Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron said he wants to make sure the trial is completed within a two-week period beginning Tuesday for the sake of the jurors.

Prosecutors, including Senior Deputy Attorney General Dave Gorman and Blair County Assistant District Attorney Peter Weeks, questioned if that would be enough time.

The prosecution was initially limited to two weeks by the county’s court administration staff, which assigns the number of days that will be devoted to a trial, Gorman said.

The judge countered that the trial was to include four defendants, Jermaine Samuel, 32; Stephen Piner; his son, Glenn; and Michael Pendleton.

Pendleton took a plea Monday to several offenses and was sentenced to seven to 20 years in prison. Stephen Piner wants his charges reviewed by the state Superior Court before he goes to trial, and Glen Piner’s attorney was unable to attend jury selection.

The result is that Samuel is the only defendant remaining for trial.

Samuel and his attorney, Matthew P. Gieg, were in Milliron’s courtroom for about two hours Thursday talking about the trial, its issues and the procedures to be followed.

The prosecution attorneys said the same material must be presented whether there are one or four defendants because the jury must be given a total picture of the drug operation of which Samuel was a part.

Milliron didn’t back down. The prosecution has six days to present its case: four days next week and Monday and Tuesday of the following week.

The defense has not revealed whether it will call witnesses.

Samuel is charged with multiple drug offenses that include charges of possession with intent to deliver, dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activity, participating in a corrupt organization, conspiracy with others and criminal use of a communication facility.

Samuel helped Damion Floyd of Baltimore continue to operate a drug ring from the Corner Bar in Altoona while Floyd was serving time for drug offenses at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, police said.

Milliron said he would be cautious when permitting information about the Floyd drug operation prior to the time Samuel allegedly became involved.

The defense objects to testimony about drug activities before Samuel allegedly became involved with the organization in early 2011. The judge said he would allow the prosecution to develop its case but would screen what information prior to 2011 would be permitted into the testimony.