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Witness testifies Bradshaw fired weapon

“I am taking responsibility for my actions.”

Marjorie Jay of Connellsville delivered that statement during testimony Wednesday at the murder trial of Keith Bradshaw.

Bradshaw, 34, of Everson, is accused of fatally shooting William “Bill” Stewart of Connellsville in the early morning hours of Feb. 18, 2020, and then kidnapping the son of Stewart’s girlfriend, Heather Mickey-Dill.

He also is accused of sexual misconduct involving the child from August 2019 through February 2020.

Jay, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, criminal homicide and kidnapping on Sept. 14, was sentenced to 12 to 24 years in prison.

She also pleaded guilty on a contraband charge and is serving two to four years in jail. That sentence will run concurrently with the 12 to 24 years term.

As part of the plea arrangement, Jay, represented by public defender Shane Gannon, agreed to testify for the prosecution in the Bradshaw case.

She must register as a Megan’s Law sex-offender every three months for the rest of her life.

Answering questions from Assistant District Attorney Melinda Dellarose, Jay testified she entered the guilty pleas to take responsibility for her actions.

Jay testified she met Bradshaw while dating his brother. She said she has known Keith Bradshaw for several years and considered him to be a friend.

Jay testified Keith Bradshaw and his husband, Brendon Bradshaw, were paid $800 per child for each month for watching her two children while she was incarcerated from May 13, 2018, through Oct. 10, 2019.

She said it came from her Social Security Income allocation.

Jay testified she and Keith Bradshaw kept in conduct, as she would help him with his work on houses, but said she never came in contact with Stewart and the 16-year-old son of Mickey-Dill prior to Feb. 18, 2020.

Jay testified Bradshaw contacted her Feb. 16, 2020, with an invitation to Bud Murphy’s Sports Bar & Restaurant in Connellsville for a “couple of drinks.”

She said they met Dana Cottom at Bud Murphy’s around 10 in the evening, but left after Bradshaw was refused alcohol because he did not have photo identification to prove he was at least 21, the legal age to drink alcohol in Pennsylvania.

The three moved on to another Connellsville establishment, where they had several alcoholic drinks, Jay testified.

Jay testified they left in Bradshaw’s truck and drove near Stewart’s home at 238 E. Fairview Ave. in Connellsville.

Jay said Bradshaw wanted to throw a rock at Stewart’s house, and Cottom stayed in the vehicle.

They returned to the bar to pick up Cottom’s vehicle. Jay testified that Bradshaw took Cottom home and Jay drove Bradshaw’s truck to his residence.

At that point, Jay and Bradshaw headed back toward Stewart’s house, she testified.

Jay testified Bradshaw wanted her to knock on the door of Stewart’s house.

When she did, Mickey-Dill answered the door and Jay told her she had Mickey-Dill’s brother on the phone, Jay testified.

Mickey-Dill told Jay to leave, and Jay went back to Bradshaw’s house and stayed the night, she testified.

She testified that on the evening of Feb. 17, 2020, at Bradshaw’s residence, Bradshaw told her that he wanted to tie up Mickey-Dill’s then-16-year-old son and take him to Bradshaw’s house.

Jay testified that Bradshaw had a gun when they left in his 2018 Pearl White Chevrolet Malibu.

She testified Jay gave her a black handbag, in which she placed clothing, belts, and duct tape. Bradshaw handed her a before they arrived at Fairview Avenue around 2:15 a.m. on Feb. 18, 2020.

Jay testified they were wearing dark clothes and Bradshaw told her he didn’t want to live without the juvenile because he loved him.

They exited the car at the back of Stewart’s residence and climbed over a wooden fence, she testified.

The jury was shown a photograph of a fence, and Jay testified it was the location of the Stewart residence.

Another photo portrayed the rear of the residence where Stewart was shote, and Jay testified she and Bradshaw were there that night.

Jay testified Bradshaw unsuccessfully attempted to open a sliding door and that dogs inside came to the door and barked.

Jay said Stewart came to the door to let the dogs out, saw her and Bradshaw and told them to leave.

Jay testified she had the baton in her hand and the black handbag on her shoulder.

When Stewart took the baton from her, Bradshaw pulled the gun from his waistband, and Stewart asked what he did wrong before Bradshaw fired the weapon, Jay testified.

Jay testified she was in front of Bradshaw when he fired from the left side near her ear.

Jay testified Stewart attempted to move, but was struck in the side by a bullet.

After Stewart collapsed from being shot, Bradshaw went inside and came out with the juvenile, Jay testified.

Jay said Bradshaw had the gun in one hand and the other on the juvenile’s arm above the elbow.

The two ran past Jay and got into the car, Jay testified. Jay testified she and she ran after them before being stopped by Connellsville police Sgt. Danny Sherbinsky near the Elks Lodge.

Sherbinsky asked if he could look in the bag and he pulled out a Taser, she said, testifying she didn’t put the device in the bag.

Jay testified that after Sherbinsky released her, she went to her cousin’s house, changed clothes and returned home.

Jay testified she called Bradshaw’s mother from her cousin’s residence.

Claiming she was panicked and “not really thinking,” Jay said she did not contact police.

Jay said Connellsville Detective Lt. Thomas Patton took her to the station for questioning around 6 a.m. Feb. 18, 2020.

Jay testified she used her sister’s name, “Donna Campbell,” when she spoke to Sherbinsky and she lied at first before giving a statement because she was scared.

Jay lived with Campbell at the time.

Jay said “yes,” after defense attorney Blaine Jones asked Jay if she was dishonest related to 13 crimes in which she entered guilty pleas.

Asked by Jones why she didn’t report Bradshaw’s rock-throwing incident to police, Jay testified it was because she was scared.

When Jones asked Jay why she never reported Bradshaw’s actions, she testified she was scared, panicked, and not thinking right.

Jay also testified she was never threatened by Bradshaw.

Jay answered “yes,” after Jones asked Jay if she lies when she is scared.

Jay testified she told the truth Thursday.

Answering questions from District Attorney Richard Bower, Cottom said she knew Bradshaw more as a neighbor at the time of the murder, and that he texted her about coming out for drinks at Bud Murphy’s and the other bar on Feb. 16, 2020.

Cottom testified that while at the second bar, Bradshaw said Stewart was giving him some trouble about the relationship between Mickey-Dill’s son and him.

Cottom testified that Bradshaw asked if her boyfriend would “take care of Bill” for him, and she said she didn’t want any part of it.

She testified that Bradshaw asked if her boyfriend’s son would do it, and she told him no.

Cottom testified that after leaving the second bar, Bradshaw and Jay left her in his truck while they walked toward Fairview Avenue.

She testified that when they returned the two were laughing because Bradshaw said Jay tried to throw a brick at a window but missed and hit siding.

Cottom testified that after that incident, she told Bradshaw and Jay to take her home.

Under cross examination, Jones asked Cottom what she thought Bradshaw meat when he asked if her boyfriend would “take care of Bill,” and she said she believed he meant to “beat up” Stewart.

Patton testified he was assigned as lead investigator in homicide case and arrived at 238 E. Fairview Ave. after being called in at 2:54 a.m. Feb. 18, 2020.

Patton said he prepared a search warrant request for the house and obtained surveillance video of the residence with Mickey-Dill’s permission.

Patton testified that because the video belonged to Stewart as the owner of the home, the police had limited time to view the video and the recordings were erased.

Police from other departments attempted to retrieve the recordings but Patton testified he reviewed the tape.

Patton testified he and three other officers headed to Chambersburg after hearing Bradshaw and Mickey-Dill’s son were apprehended by state police.

They traveled in two vehicles because they didn’t want Bradshaw and the juvenile to communicate on the way back to Connellsville.

Patton testified that as he entered the state police barracks ion Chambersburg, the juvenile motioned toward Bradshaw and, in a low voice said, “(Bradshaw) had been raping him, and he’s not even gay.”

Patton testified that while still in Chambersburg, the minor told him Bradshaw said Jay shot Stewart. Police responded that they didn’t believe him because the minor was vague and taking a long time to answer, Patton said.

Patton testified the juvenile asked officers to protect him because Bradshaw said they would both be in jail.

In Chambersburg, the juvenile said he awakened in Stewart’s house to Bradshaw pointing a gun at him and saying, “Let’s go,” Patton testified.

Patton testified the juvenile said he only knew of Jay from what Bradshaw had told him, and after they started driving following the incident at Stewart’s house, Bradshaw stopped once and said, “Maybe we should just end it all.”

Patton testified the juvenile told him he attempted to calm Bradshaw and he went to the backseat with Bradshaw driving.

Patton said the minor told him Bradshaw put blame on Jay.

The juvenile said Bradshaw stopped 45 minutes before they were stopped by state police in Chambersburg and appeared to urinate near a body of water before throwing the gun in it, Patton testified.

Patton testified he and other officers searched 40 to 50 bodies of water and asked the minor if he recognized any of them, but he wasn’t able to and the gun wasn’t retrieved.

The minor told Patton he didn’t see who shot Stewart, but Bradshaw told him multiple times Jay did it.

Patton testified that around May 2020, he spoke with the juvenile regarding the sexual misconduct Bradshaw allegedly committed from August 2019 to February 2020.

The said that while living with Bradshaw, he was forced into sexual activity four to five days each week, Patton testified.

Testimony was interrupted around 3 p.m. following a 15-minute recess.

Presiding Judge Steve Leskinen said a medical situation had arisen and excused the jury. Leskinen said he will work with attorneys involved in the case in an effort to complete testimony by Friday. The trial was expected to resume 9 a.m. Friday.


Independent_observer
Boone joins Southmoreland School District

Dr. Jason Boone is the Southmoreland School District’s new assistant superintendent.

But he probably is a familiar face to some students.

Boone, former curriculum supervisor at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit, is a Scottdale native.

“This is my hometown. I grew up here, born and raised, and my children go to Southmoreland,” he said.

Having grown up in the are, Boone has a vested interest in seeing Southmoreland School District — and the community — do well.

“I want to be a part of making a difference in the community I live in,” he said.

Boone received his bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from Saint Vincent College, where he double-minored in secondary education and computer science.

He went on to receive a master’s degree in curriculum instruction and school administrative certification.

Boone obtained a doctorate in school leadership from the University of Pittsburgh.

Prior to working at the IU, Boone spent nearly 10 years as an assistant principal and principal in the Belle Vernon Area School District.

Boone said his current job has him spending time at the high school and the elementary/middle school.

“I spend my days split amongst both campuses, working with the principals and administrators in both buildings,” he said. “We plan ahead for anything coming our way from the state.”

Despite his status as a newcomer to the district, he already has received a promotion, albeit a temporary one.

“I’m assuming the responsibilities that a superintendent typically takes on,” he said.

Boone is filling in as acting superintendent in the absence of Vincent Mascia, who is on leave.

Boone said he spent an “interesting summer” preparing for his transition to the Southmoreland School District and has worked with other administrators in recent weeks.

“What I’ve really worked hard on with the other administrators over the past month is really improving our level of communication within the district and the community,” he said. “I want to let the community know all the great things that are happening within the district. I want to be available at all times to the community.”


News
Connellsville Township works to control feral cats

The Connellsville Township supervisors on Wednesday agreed to implement a program they hope will reduce feral cat problems.

The board agreed to use $2,000 from its American Rescue Plan allocation to help establish a program to trap, neuter and spay feral cats.

The American Rescue Plan is a federal COVID-19-related economic stimulus plan.

Supervisor Todd Miner said the township will use ARP money to cover the cost of cat neutering, spaying and vaccinations.

The township plans to purchase four box traps for $55 apiece from Spotto’s in Connellsville.

Residents will be asked to pay a $50 deposit, use the traps and get their money back after returning the traps.

Supervisors are working with Dr. Chelsee Beal at Valley View Vet on Route 31, Jones Mills.

Miner, who has known Beal since her 4-H member days, said the veterinarian “wants to give back to the community.”

He said residents will be asked to take trapped cats to Valley View Vet, where they will be examined and, if healthy enough, spayed, neutered and vaccinated. Their ears will be notched as proof they are neutered or spayed.

Cats should then be returned to where they were trapped.Miner said residents should contact the township when a cat is trapped, and it will schedule the appointment with the veterinarian.

“We are hoping the community will work with us on this,” Miner said.

Miner said the township hopes the program will slow the birth of feral cats.

“There’s no easy answer to the problem,” he said, adding there are “no dog catchers for cats,” and the township’s animal-control company, Hoffman Kennels, does not handle cats.

Township solicitor Jack Purcell said a good paper trail should be established for use of the federal money. Miner said payment will be made straight to the veterinarian.

If the program is successful, “you could reach that $2,000 pretty quickly,” Purcell said.

“I think it’s a good thing to try and see if it helps,” he noted.

The supervisors agreed to pay Apex Design $2,000 to develop and maintain the township website.

Miner said the website will be more user-friendly.


News
Everson borough secretary resigns

Everson Secretary-Treasurer Vera Stevens submitted a letter of resignation Sept. 20, claiming a councilwoman bullied her.

Stevens did not attend the Tuesday council meeting.

Council President Eric Christner read the letter into the public record during the meeting.

In the letter, Stevens claimed Councilwoman Mindy Dugger “has made false accusations about me at two public meetings with no apologies.”

Stevens also alleged Dugger “bullied” her at times over the past seven years.

Dugger said she did not know about alleged incidents claimed by Stevens.

In the letter, Stevens said she would submit all borough records to Christner on Dec. 31, the day the resignation takes effect.

Stevens indicated in the letter that she will no longer attend monthly meetings, but will ensure reports are ready on time.

Council accepted Stevens’ resignation, citing regrets.

Council discussed the borough police schedule and officers’ salaries, with Christner saying he would like to see each officer work at least two days per week.

Council considered possible uses for approximately $74,000 received in American Rescue Plan Act money. The American Rescue Plan is a federal COVID-19-related economic-stimulus program.

Councilman Neil Stevens – Vera Stevens’ husband — suggested giving some of the money to the Everson Civics Organization to help recoup some losses the organization incurred because of the pandemic.

He suggested the rest the money then could be split between the volunteer fire company and the street department.

Council reviewed street repair and paving bids, with an eye toward fixing major trouble spots in advance of cold conditions.

It agreed to pay A. Mohar Rolloffs and Construction $13,280 to repair potholes.

Mindy Dugger said junior council member Christina Dugger was contacted by Glenn Wolfe of Eads Group, the borough engineering consultant. Christina Dugger did not attend the meeting.

Wolfe told Christina Dugger a matching-grant program was open through the end of October and suggested the borough could seek money for park renovations.

Under the program, the borough would have to provide a 20% match to a grant award.

Council agreed to pay Wolfe up to $2,500 to prepare an application for a $50,000 grant to cover mulch, paving and a parking extension at Everson Centennial Park.

In other business, council:

• Approved to pay up to $1,000 for a pole saw that would be used to cut overhanging branches.

• Agreed to cover half the cost — $525 – to send Mindy Dugger, Christina Dugger and Mayor Joe Dugger to the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs fall leadership conference Oct. 14 through 16 in Gettysburg.

• Tentatively hired Jason Frazier and Josh Hudec at a rate of $17.50 per hour to plow snow. Councilman Chuck Leighty said a candidate might be interested in the open street-department position. Frazier and Hudec were hired as a precaution.

• Set trick-or-treat 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 30.

• Announced sanitation pick-up day will be Oct. 3.

• Announced the annual light-up night is scheduled 6 p.m. Nov. 25.

The next meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18.


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