Two charged in Monessen slaying

December 27, 2012
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MONESSEN – A Monessen man already in custody for attempted homicide and his girlfriend were charged Thursday in the robbery and slaying of a former Washington County man Dec. 3 in this Westmoreland County city.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said Earl Vatelle Pinkney, 19, of 617 Chestnut St., and Chalsee L. Hughes, 19, of 946 High St., Duquesne, were arraigned on charges including homicide and robbery before District Judge Joseph Dalfonso. Both suspects in the shooting death of Chris “Snax” Fincik were remanded to Westmoreland County Prison without bond, court records show.

Pinkney also was arrested along with four others Dec. 4 in the attempted shooting of Jaisen Irwin in Monessen in retaliation for Irwin’s boasting about knowing who killed Fincik.

Also Thursday, Dalfonso ordered Pinkney and three siblings to stand trial in Westmoreland County Court on charges related to the attempted homicide of Irwin. The other Monessen suspects arrested in that case have been identified as: brothers Joshua Stepoli, 18, and Terrance Stepoli, 20; their sister, Samone Stepoli, 21; and Antoine Hairston, 19. Hairston’s preliminary hearing was postponed.

Fincik, 36, formerly of Charleroi, was shot and killed about 12:30 a.m. as he answered his door to let a woman inside his apartment at 902 Maple Ave. in the Highland Manor section of Monessen. Following an autopsy performed by pathologist Cryil Wecht, the death was ruled a homicide as a result of his having been shot three times with a 7.62-caliber rifle, investigators stated in the affidavit. Police also discovered a white powdered drug and money in his kitchen while processing the homicide scene, an affidavit in the case indicates.

During a Dec. 4 search of Pinkney’s residence, investigators found an empty ammunition box of the type matching one of the shells found at the homicide scene, court records show.

Pinkney was questioned that day at the Monessen police station and allegedly admitted that Joshua Stepoli brought the empty ammunition box to his residence.

Police believe Pinkney eventually had been confronted about the Fincik killing by Hughes after she heard rumors of his involvement in the death, the affidavit shows. Pinkney’s statement indicates he told Hughes he went with Joshua Stepoli and Hairston to Fincik’s apartment to rob him and the shooting took place when a female came to the door, the court record indicates.

“It was not supposed to happen that way,” Pinkney is quoted in court documents as having said to Hughes when she questioned him. “I was so high, I didn’t know where I was at,” Pinkney allegedly told investigators.

Pinkney then told police he ran home after Joshua Stepoli fired the shots.

The female who answered the door to Fincik’s apartment that morning was identified in court documents as Rachel Manges, address unknown. She managed to flee uninjured, and directed police to the homicide scene when they stopped her vehicle as she attempted to leave the area, police stated in the affidavit supporting a search warrant in the case.

Police then questioned Hughes Dec. 5 about evidence that showed she purchased the box of ammunition at a local Walmart, the record indicates.

She reportedly admitted to using her identification to purchase the ammunition while accompanied by Joshua Stepoli and Hairston, knowing there was going to be a robbery. She further told investigators that she knew the two men had robbed people in the past, but not in Monessen, the affidavit shows.

The Stepoli brothers and Hairston were returned Thursday to Westmoreland County Prison under $100,000 bonds.

Samone Stepoli is free on $10,000 bond.

Pinkney and Hughes were scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing in the homicide case at 9 a.m. Jan. 4 before Dalfonso. In addition to homicide and robbery, both were charged Thursday with conspiracy. Pinkney faces additional counts of aggravated assault in the case.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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