New Castle News

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May 14, 2013

Suspect in officer’s death jailed in county

NEW CASTLE — Kylee Gwen Barletto was composed walking into court Monday until a television reporter pelted her with questions.

Escorted by two state troopers, she was asked, “What do you have to say to the police officer’s family?”

“I’m sorry,” she uttered as she was ushered into the court lobby. Then she burst into tears.

Once in the courtroom, Barletto cried uncontrollably as her stepfather, Donald Lehman of Shenango Township, knelt at her side with his arm around her. He wiped her eyes and nose with tissue and talked softly to her. Her mother sat quietly behind her.

“We are praying for you,” Lehman said quietly. “We love you and we’re standing by you.”

Barletto’s jet-black hair was tied up in a bun and she wore a tight orange long-sleeved T-shirt, blue pants, white socks and rubber sandals. Her wrists were handcuffed to a 3-inch-wide leather belt around her waist.

Barletto spent her 26th birthday Sunday in police custody in Ohio, accused of driving the car that had smashed into a Shenango Township police car May 2, killing William J. “Jerry” McCarthy IV, a part-time policeman. Barletto allegedly was fleeing New Castle police, who had tried to stop her for driving with a suspended license.

Officer Michael Lynch, the cruiser’s driver, suffered a broken hip and ankle.

McCarthy was buried Wednesday in Grove City after hundreds of police officers gathered for his funeral at St. Vitus Church. Thousands of mourners throughout Mercer and Lawrence counties, including school children, stood on sidewalks waving flags as his funeral procession passed by.

McCarthy, 60, also was a full-time humane officer in the Lawrence County District Attorney’s office.

Barletto was hospitalized in Youngstown with head and face injuries and arrested upon discharge. She waived extradition Thursday and was taken to Ellwood City Monday for arraignment before District Judge Jerry G. Cartwright.

State police charged Barletto with manslaughter of a law enforcement officer in the second degree, homicide by vehicle and 13 other charges. A charge of driving while operating privileges are suspended or revoked was filed Monday.

District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa said the police are awaiting results of Barletto’s blood tests.

Defense attorney James Ecker of Pittsburgh asked the judge to consider a nominal or unsecured bond, as Barletto has lived in New Castle all her life and “obviously has ties” to the community.

“This is a death case,” Lamancusa countered as prosecutor. “An officer was killed, another officer was injured. We’re looking at a homicide case.

“If she is willing to flee on a ticket that amounts to a fine, what is she willing to do on felony charges?” Lamancusa asked.

“We believe she is a flight risk,” he said and asked for $500,000 bond.

Cartwright said he had concerns about Barletto trying to flee police, “putting at risk many people of Lawrence County” but feels a half-million is “a little punitive.”

He set bond at half that — $250,000 — with the conditions that Barletto cannot drive and must show up with counsel for her preliminary hearing, set for 11 a.m. May 23.

She was committed to the Lawrence County jail.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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