Weapons and crime scene focus on first day of Lana Roe retrial

March 24, 2014
Lana Roe is lead into court to face homicide charges last year. - Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

WAYNESBURG– More than two dozen people testified Monday in Greene County court during the first day of the retrial of Lana Kaye Roe, 41, charged in the Aug. 14, 2012, shooting death of Cordele Edward Patterson, 38.

Roe and her husband, Jason William Roe, 35, were tried together for homicide last November.

It took a Greene County jury a little more than five hours to find Jason Roe guilty of first-degree murder. However, the jury could not agree on the charge of homicide against Lana Roe, forcing Judge William Nalitz to declare a mistrial. Nalitz, who Jan. 29 sentenced Jason Roe to life in prison without parole, is presiding over Lana Roe’s retrial.

At the November trial, the jury also found Jason Roe guilty of aggravated assault for shooting Lana Roe as the events unfolded at the property in Wayne Township the day Patterson was killed.

After the first trial, Linda Chambers, Greene County assistant district attorney, said Lana Roe getting shot by her husband wasn’t part of the plan, “unless it was part of Jason’s plan and she didn’t know it. What we do know is he shot her in the face and killed Cordele Patterson. This was an intentional first degree murder that went wrong,” Chambers said.

Lana Roe’s attorney, Michael Bigley, said his client did not know her husband was going to kill Patterson. He said the Commonwealth had a “very, very high burden of proof” to meet before it could prove Lana Roe acted in concert with her husband in Patterson’s death and that it did not meet that burden.

Lana Roe also is being tried on a charge of falsely reporting or falsely incriminating another person. She was tried solely on the homicide charge previously.

The charge of falsely reporting or falsely incriminating stems from a police report Lana Roe made regarding weapons allegedly stolen from the Roe residence Aug. 11, 2012. She initially claimed Patterson took the weapons. However, in a later interview with police, she told them she sold two of them prior to the reported burglary.

Several witnesses testified Monday regarding the sale of these weapons, including Eric Johnson, Lana Rose’s first husband. He testified Lana Roe needed money to get away from Jason Roe, against whom she had filed a protection from abuse order. Johnson contacted his former employer, John Brett Ketchem, about purchasing Lana Roe’s crossbow, an AR-15 rifle and a handgun.

Ketchem said Johnson also inquired about Lana Roe staying at his camper along the river in Rices Landing. Ketchem agreed to let her stay there for a couple days. Ketchem said he initially gave Lana Roe a check for the crossbow and handgun but later decided he did not want to purchase the handgun because he did not want to go through having to register it.

Ketchem’s wife, Lois Jane Ketchem, said Lana Roe came to their residence to retrieve the handgun and exchange the original check they gave her for one for $125 for just the crossbow. First Federal Bank employee, Jenny Coss, testified John Brett Ketchem called in a stop payment on the first check in the amount of $350 but neither he nor his wife had any recollection of doing so.

Coss said paperwork was mailed to John Ketchem for his signature to complete the stop payment. She said his signature on that paperwork, when returned to the bank, appeared to match his signature card on file at the institution. However, it was noted that Lois Ketchem often signed documents for her husband and this may have been one of those instances.

Ketchem did not purchase the AR-15 rifle. It was sold for $450 cash to Robert Dale Haney, Jr. of Carmichaels. Haney’s sister, Bobbie Jo Gabaletto of Nemacolin is a long-time friend of Lana Roe. Gabaletto said Lana Roe told her “she was wanting to get money together to leave Jason.”

In other testimony, jurors were shown photographs of the grounds and interior of the Wayne Township cabin by state police investigators.

Photographs of the scene, as well as those from the white Jeep the Roe’s drove there the day of the homicide, were entered into evidence. Spent and unused casings of various types of ammunition taken from the cabin, its surrounding property, and inside the Roe’s Jeep were also viewed by the jury and entered into evidence. The Mossburg 12 gauge shotgun, determined in the first trial to be the murder weapon, as well a loaded revolver and a loaded .44 Glock handgun found by investigators inside the Jeep were also presented.

Testimony before the jury of nine women and three men plus three alternates will resume at 9 a.m. today.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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