Man caught with alleged killer pleads to criminal charges

November 20, 2012

A Washington man who was with an East Finley Township man shortly after he allegedly killed an 80-year-old widow in her home recently pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension of the murder suspect and possessing items and drugs belonging to the woman.

Brandon J. Howard, 22, of 19 Strabane St., Washington, appeared Nov. 9 before Washington County Judge John DiSalle and pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension, receiving stolen property and possession of hydrocodone. He was sentenced to 1 to 2 years in prison in exchange for his plea.

Howard was arrested Jan. 8 after being confronted by police regarding 23-year-old Frank Russell Jones Jr., who is accused of slaying Opal Bedillion of East Finley a few hours before.

According to police, Howard was shown footage from a videotape at the Giant Eagle in South Strabane Township in which he appeared with Jones going into the store to purchase diapers.

Police records indicate Howard said Jones came to his home after leaving Bedillion’s residence, where he allegedly slit her throat as she opened her door after he claimed to need assistance.

The men were stopped later that evening and questioned by police after they were observed acting suspiciously while Jones’ vehicle was parked in a church parking lot. Police frisked both men and discovered several hydrocodone pills in Howard’s pocket, as well as a brooch with the words “Opal and Harry” on it.

Jones remains in the county jail without bond while awaiting his trial on first-degree homicide charges. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against Jones if he is convicted.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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