New Castle News

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December 19, 2013

Ellwood homicide suspect heads to court

NEW CASTLE — A Rochester man charged in the shooting of an Enon Valley resident has been held for court.

Leon Platt, 26, of 474 Oregon Ave. — charged in three separate incidents — remains in the Lawrence County jail, where he is being held without bond.

He is charged with criminal homicide, murder in the first degree, prohibited possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon without a license, three counts of recklessly endangering others and making false identification to a law enforcement officer.

Platt also was ordered held for court on charges of aggravated assault and discharging a firearm into an occupied structure, recklessly endangering others and criminal mischief. He is held on $100,000 bond on those charges.

And he was ordered to court on charges of prohibited possession of firearms, carrying a concealed weapon without a license and recklessly endangering others following a shooting at the West End Cafe. He is held on a $100,000 bond on those charges.

Assistant district attorney Thomas Minett said District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa has not yet determined if he will pursue the death penalty in this case.

Minett and assistant district attorney Jessica Barson presented six witnesses at a 90-minute hearing Tuesday in Lawrence County Central Court. Court-appointed defense attorney John J. Bongivengo represented the defendant.

Platt was charged by Ellwood City police in the death of Richard Hogue, 28, who was shot at the Walnut Ridge housing complex on Loop Street about 1:45 a.m. Nov. 16.

He also is charged with shooting up the car of Linda Boots at the West End Cafe and shooting up the home of Michael Pounds of Fox Street, Wayne Township, last month. Prosecutors noted Pounds is Boots’ son.

According to testimony, Platt and a witness, Taylor Foley, 17, of Ellwood City, were said to have shot at Boots’ vehicle, outside the West End Cafe, in the 1200 block of Lawrence Avenue, about 1 a.m. Nov. 16.

Two witnesses, Boots and Tim Phillippi, both of Ellwood City, said they heard gunfire earlier that night. Boots said her car was shot up. Phillippi said bullets came through his window and narrowly missed his wife, Allison.

Foley said she and Platt had not believed they hit anything during their shooting spree. She said Hogue had offered to provide shooting lessons. After that, she said, she saw Platt load a gun and testified that from the corner of her eyes saw Platt as he shot Hogue.

Ellwood City police officer Brian Damon Sr. said Platt had denied taking part in the shootings but admitted to shootings at the West End Cafe and on Fox Street after police began a gunshot residue test on him.

The officer said Platt denied shooting Hogue, claiming another man had pulled the trigger then gave him the murder weapon to conceal at Foley’s house.

Police located a .45-caliber gun and a .22-caliber pistol at Foley’s house.

Foley had admitted she had fired a 9 mm pistol during the West End Cafe shooting. That gun has not been recovered.

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