Borkowski remaining here to handle McNerney case

December 30, 2013
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Katie Roupe/Observer-Reporter
From left, Eric Wells, Troy Simmons Jr. and Adam Hankins arrive at Washington County Courthouse on Wednesday, August 14. The three are charged with criminal homicide in the death of Timothy McNerney. Order a Print
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Visiting Allegheny County Judge Edward Borkowski has become a familiar face this past year in the Washington County Courthouse, mostly on Fridays, but the close of 2013 and the seating of two new judges doesn’t mean he’ll vanish from the local scene.

A marquee in front of Courtroom No. 6 shows him handling guilty pleas and drivers’ license suspensions the morning of Jan. 3, but he’ll have a much higher-profile case down the road, because plans call for him to preside at the trial of three men charged with the October 2012 homicide of Washington & Jefferson College football player Tim McNerney.

A pool of jurors will be summoned to the courthouse March 3 especially for the homicide trial.

“We’re fortunate to have Judge Borkowski, and (fortunate) that he would be available,” said President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca Monday. She expects to schedule the trial for Courtroom No. 1. “I’ll displace myself so he can use my courtroom.”

Awaiting trial in the case after their August arrest on charges of homicide, theft, robbery and conspiracy are Adam Hankins, 24, of 348 Houston St., Washington; Troy LaMonte Simmons Jr., 23, of East Pittsburgh; and Eric Dante Wells, 25, of Pittsburgh. They have been jailed without bond.

Investigators used a GPS to trace a cellphone stolen from McNerney to one of the suspects and used that information to seek arrests.

McNerney and a teammate, Zach DeCicco of Jefferson Hills, allegedly were assaulted by the suspects as they walked back to campus after leaving a local tavern. McNerney died from an injury to the back of his head suffered when he was knocked to the ground near South College and East Maiden streets.

Borkowski began hearing cases in Washington County after the court found itself two judges short with the mid-term retirement of Janet Moschetta Bell and the sudden resignation of Paul Pozonsky, who is facing trial on charges he misappropriated drug evidence. The court will be back to full strength later this week when Valarie Costanzo and Michael Lucas are sworn in.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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