For the second time in as many days, a Washington County judge dismissed a case after determining during a Rule 600 hearing that the district attorney’s office failed to bring the case to trial within a year.
Common Pleas Judge John DiSalle determined Friday the drug case against Andre Taylor, 36, of Washington, failed to progress after he was arrested and charged in summer 2013.
Taylor was charged with fleeing or attempting to elude police, driving while operating privileges were suspended or revoked, driving without lights to avoid arrest, manufacture, delivery or possession with the intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance and false identification to an officer after he allegedly ran from city police during a traffic stop on North Main Street June 18, 2013. He was subdued by police using a Taser.
Police said they found six stamp bags of heroin, two bags of crack, one bag of marijuana and one marijuana blunt in his possession.
He was charged in July 2013 before District Judge Robert Redlinger and was held in jail on bond.
Taylor’s attorney, Rose Semple, said his case went unaddressed for a full year. He was supposed to appear in court July 22, but the wrong prisoner – another man named Andre Taylor – was transported from Allegheny County jail, where Washington’s Andre Taylor is being detained in a case similar to the one that was pending in Washington County.
After reviewing the matter, DiSalle determined that Taylor’s case had not been brought to trial within a year, as required under the rule. DiSalle dismissed the charges.
On Thursday, DiSalle dismissed an attempted homicide case after determining the case also hadn’t been brought to trial within a year. Tyrone Lett, 44, of 28 Raven Drive, Hendersonville, was charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment, simple assault, illegal possession of a firearm and disorderly conduct after he allegedly shot a man in the face and chest with a shotgun July 13, 2013.
Although the charges were dismissed, Lett was sentenced to 18 months in jail for violating the terms of his probation. Lett was on probation for driving under the influence when the shooting occurred.
Lett was returned to Washington County Jail, where he will remain until his 18-month sentence is complete. He was given 13 months of credit for time already served and is on work release.
Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone explained that a person does not need to be convicted of a crime to be found guilty of violating their probation.
While disappointed in the outcome of both cases, Vittone said the district attorney’s office strives to do better.
“This is going to happen in systems where things are still done manually,” he said.
Vittone said steps have been taken to ensure Rule 600 dismissals don’t repeatedly happen. Those steps include a new case-management software system and additional checks throughout the judicial process.