News in brief from around the commonwealth
Man accused of trying to burn house
A man has been charged with trying to burn his western Pennsylvania house down last week with his wife and six young children inside.
The (Uniontown) Herald-Standard reported that 32-year-old Joshua Sanders of Masontown is accused of starting a fire in multiple places just before 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. No injuries were reported.
Police said his wife and six children ranging in age from 1¢ to 8 years old were inside, but the woman escaped and called 911, hiding outside. Investigators allege that he said “I’m going to burn the whole house down with everyone in it.”
Man convicted in killing gets more time
A northeastern Pennsylvania man serving decades in prison in the slaying of the brother of a county prosecutor has been sentenced to more prison time in a robbery case. The (Hazleton) Standard-Speaker reported that 25-year-old Amir Edwards was sentenced Friday to 96 to 192 months in the September 2014 robbery of a Banks Township grocery store.
The Luzerne County judge said the crime, during which one person was beaten and pistol-whipped, and the defendant’s criminal history showed “total disregard” for human life.
Edwards was earlier sentenced to 24 to 48 years after pleading guilty to third-degree murder in the September 2014 stabbing of 27-year-old Zachary Richards, brother of Assistant District Attorney Justin Richards.
Cause sought for massive Philly fire
Fire investigators are trying to find the cause of a massive fire that destroyed a vacant north Philadelphia warehouse over the weekend. No injuries were reported from the blaze in the four-story building, which was reported about 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said “We essentially used most of the Philadelphia Fire Department” fighting the blaze, which “basically involved an entire block of the city.” The fire was declared under control shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday. Officials said a nearby church was damaged by burning embers.
Appeals court reverses judge’s order
An appeals court has reversed part of a judge’s order barring western Pennsylvania prosecutors from presenting some evidence of prior incidents in the trial of a woman charged in the stabbing death of her boyfriend.
A Fayette County judge earlier barred prosecutors from presenting evidence of alleged “prior bad acts” by 46-year-old Lori Tressler in her trial in the August 2015 stabbing of 29-year-old Robert Engle in Georges Township.
Her attorney said testimony about previous incidents in which Tressler wasn’t convicted would unfairly prejudice the case.
The (Uniontown) Herald-Standard reported that a Superior Court said the risk of unfair prejudice by the testimony “could be substantially mitigated” by cautionary instructions from the trial court. The appeals court agreed that testimony from officers involved in the earlier cases shouldn’t be presented.
The Associated Press