Man pleads guilty in gun case; his murder trial is next month

Anthony Thurman

A man accused of waving a gun at a police officer was to stand trial this week, but he entered a guilty plea Monday before jury selection could begin.

A pool of jurors had reported to the courthouse but had not yet been seated in the courtroom when Anthony Thurman, 29, formerly of Mahoning Avenue, reconsidered his options.

Lawrence County Common Pleas President Judge Dominick Motto accepted Thurman's guilty plea to one count of felon not to possess a weapon in the July, 2018 incident. Under state guidelines, he could face four to eight years in a state correctional institution. His formal sentencing on that charge is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. May 25 in Motto's courtroom.

He had been arrested by a New Castle officer after the incident on the city's East Side, according to a criminal complaint the police filed with multiple charges against him. Other pending charges are being dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Meanwhile, Thurman is in the Lawrence County jail without bond, also accused as the gunman in the April 11, 2019, killing of 35-year-old Michael Riser, who was inadvertently shot while sitting in a car. Thurman is scheduled to face trial next month on charges of criminal homicide, criminal attempt at homicide and prohibited possession of a firearm, in connection with Riser's death and the injury of another man.

According to a criminal complaint filed against Thurman in that shooting, New Castle police determined that Riser was sitting in the car sleeping outside of a house at 520 E. Winter Ave. when gunfire erupted. The driver of the car lived at that house and had gotten into an argument with Thurman inside, police reported.

The other man was shot in the upper leg and drove Riser and himself to the hospital, where Riser was pronounced dead. Thurman later turned himself in to the police, the report said.

Suspects are to be considered innocent until legally determined (or adjudicated) to be guilty.

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Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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