Suspect pleads to manslaughter charge

New Castle police detectives Justin Crum, foreground, and Branddon Hallowich, escort Anthony Thurman, left, in white, to a court proceeding after his arrest for homicide in April, 2019.

A Mahoningtown area man will serve at least 10 years in a state correctional institution for having fired a shot that inadvertently killed a man who was reported to have been sleeping in a vehicle.

Anthony Thurman, 29, of Mahoning Avenue, on Monday pleaded guilty to one count of voluntary manslaughter in the courtroom of Lawrence County President Judge Dominick Motto. Thurman was to stand trial next week for the homicide and shooting that injured another man, and in a separate gun case.

Motto sentenced him to six to 10 years for the voluntary manslaughter charge, and consecutively, to four to eight years on other the gun-related charges. 

"Realistically, he could serve 10 to 15 years," said District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa, who prosecuted the case. 

Thurman's defense attorney is Larry Keith, a public defender.

Thurman was accused the April 11, 2019 shooting death of 35-year-old Michael Riser, who was a passenger in a car parked outside of a residence in the 500 block of East Winter Avenue.

A second victim, James Stewart, 30, who was the driver of a car in which Riser was a passenger, was the target of the gunfire and was injured, according to a police report. Stewart was living in the house where the shooting occurred.

A police account indicates that Stewart and Thurman were arguing and Riser was in the car and was not involved in the argument but was fatally wounded when a bullet struck his left shoulder.

Police were called to the East Winter Avenue house around 3 a.m. with a report that two people had been shot and one was dead. An officer went to UPMC Jameson where he learned that Stewart had been shot in the upper leg and that Riser had died, according to the complaint.

Stewart told the officer that he was shot while driving as he and Riser, his passenger, were leaving Winter Avenue. He said he drove Riser to the hospital in his gray Dodge Durango, the paperwork states 

Police learned that an argument had broken out at a tavern between Stewart, a woman, and a man named T.J., later identified as Thurman.

A woman who was witness to the shooting told police that Stewart tried to hit Thurman and Thurman pulled out a gun and shot at him.

She said she yelled at Thurman not to kill him, and Stewart ran out the front door. The woman said that Thurman followed him and Stewart fell to the ground in front of the Durango. She said that Thurman then went down the front steps and she followed him, and as the Durango pulled away, Thurman fired another round at the vehicle, the complaint states. 

The report noted that Thurman has past felony convictions and is not allowed to have a gun.

Thurman fled the scene after the shooting and later turned himself in to the police. 

He initially was charged with criminal homicide, criminal attempt at homicide, and prior felon not to possess a gun in the shooting incident.

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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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