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June 7, 2013

Kylee Barletto Hearing: Judge lowers bond for woman accused in Shenango officer’s death

NEW CASTLE — Charges against the woman accused of killing a Shenango Township policeman have been held for court.

However, bond for Kylee Gwen Barletto, 26, of 693 Hoover Road was lowered, with the condition she be placed under house arrest if she is released.

Senior District Judge Michael Gerheim of Armstrong County presided at Barletto’s preliminary hearing Thursday and lowered the bond from $250,000 to $100,000.

Barletto is charged with homicide by vehicle following the May 2 death of part-time officer William “Jerry” McCarthy IV.

She also is charged with second-degree manslaughter of a law enforcement officer and 14 other charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to traffic violations.

Barletto is represented by attorneys James Ecker and Phillip DiLucente of Pittsburgh.

At the conclusion of the hearing, DiLucente asked the judge to dismiss all but the involuntary manslaughter charge or for the prosecution to amend the charges.

“This is not to say that what happened wasn’t tragic,” he said, “But what happened could have been prevented.”

He said he questioned if Barletto should have been driving with a suspended license, but said she never intended to injure or kill the officer, that she “had not intentionally or willfully intended to get the police cruiser. I feel the involuntary manslaughter (charge) is fitting.”

Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa noted Barletto’s license was suspended because of traffic violations and she participated in reckless and negligent driving while fleeing police and asked that all charges be held.

Ecker asked that Barletto’s bond be reduced, calling the $250,000 figure set at her arrest exorbitant.

“Her family are in the community. She works at the New Castle Country Club. She’s lived here all of her life and has ties to the community,” he said. “She’s no threat to leave.”

Lamancusa disagreed, noting Barletto was fleeing police when she collided with the cruiser.

“I don’t dispute that she has ties to the community but if she was willing to run from police pursuing her for erratic driving, what is she capable of doing facing homicide charges?” he asked. “The bond is appropriate. She’s a flight risk who has already demonstrated her desire to run.”

Following the hearing, Lamancusa said he plans to transfer Barletto from the Lawrence County jail to another facility “for her safety.”

Lamancusa called two witnesses, both policemen.

New Castle officer Justin Houk said he had observed Barletto “driving erratically” on Jefferson Street about 9:30 p.m. May 2. He said he pursued the vehicle and thought he had her pulled over, but she refused to stop.

Houk said he called for backup and two other New Castle police cars joined the chase through the city’s East Side.

Shenango Township officer Michael Lynch was driving the Shenango Township cruiser that was hit by Barletto’s vehicle at Warren Avenue and South Cascade Street.

McCarthy was not working for the township that night, he said. Lynch had picked up McCarthy, he said, and they were headed to the township building when they heard of New Castle’s pursuit.

Lynch, who also was injured in the crash, said he and McCarthy had planned to “get ahead” of the chase and put down spike strips to stop the car.

“I turned from New Butler Road onto Cascade ... when I saw a flash of lights from the right side and felt the impact.”

He said he got out of the cruiser and went to the passenger side. He said the impact had torn the passenger side door off the cruiser and McCarthy had fallen out.

Questioned by DiLucente, Lynch said neither officer had been wearing a seat belt.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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