TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR JULY 15TH, 2019

The New Castle News is reporting that Police are calling the deaths in Neshannock Township Thursday a murder-suicide. A mother and daughter were found dead after a house fire on Old Plank Road Thursday morning. The victims are 48-year-old Melanie Keller and 12-year-old Jazmyn Keller. Police Chief John Rand said both victims died of a single gunshot wound to the head before the fire. He said the mother shot herself. The home was destroyed.

A New Sewickley Township man is dead following a wreck in Freedom last week.  It happened late Thursday night on Ninth Street killing 23-year-old Jacob Daubenspeck.  The crash closed the road for about six hours as police investigated.

A woman is facing charges in two states after Rochester police say she stole an officer’s cruiser.  Police arrested Monica Christian this past weekend on a warrant from Texas when she climbed into the front seat of the cruiser and drove off.  Christian ditched the car after a short drive, but was caught in a foot chase after police got tips from witnesses.

The Sharon Herald is reporting A doctor who formerly practiced in Hermitage is scheduled for sentencing in October after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a child. 49 year old Hisham Mustafa Shawish, of Erie, was convicted of indecent assault of a person less than 13 years old and corruption of minors. The charges stem from allegations made by two children who accused Shawish of touching them inappropriately. Both incidents reportedly took place at Shawish’s home when he lived in Hermitage. He remains free on bond.

Charges are pending against a Butler woman who’s accused of trying to smuggle marijuana into a jail.  Butler police say the 44-year-old woman was being booked into the county jail for an outstanding warrant over the weekend when a search uncovered the drugs.  A court date on the new charges has not been set.

Pennsylvania State Police say they’ve seized eleven-million-dollars’ worth of illegal drugs in the second quarter of 2019.  Troopers announced over the weekend that from April 1st to June 30th, they’ve confiscated 84 pounds of heroin and around 33 pounds of fentanyl, which alone has a combined street value of more than three million.  More than 500-thousand-dollars’ worth of cocaine was also seized, but marijuana was by far the largest capture, with more than four million in processed pot impounded.  Over two-million dollars in narcotic pills were also confiscated by troopers over that time period.

Motorists who use the Koppel Bridge will be taking a detour starting next month.  PennDOT officials announced they are closing the bridge for a total of 72 days starting August 13th as part of a bridge replacement project.  The move is part of the larger 31-point-five-million-dollar project that started in 2017 when crews built a new bridge to connect Koppel and North Sewickley Township over the Beaver River.  The bridge is expected to reopen October 24th.

Pennsylvania’s casinos have lost a bid to shut down online lottery games that they say are too much like casino gambling, just days before the state’s first casinos launch their own online gambling portals. Friday’s decision in Commonwealth Court is a victory for the state lottery, although the casino owners’ 9-month-old lawsuit will continue. Lottery officials say the games are in accordance with the 2017 state law that authorized them, but the casinos argue that some online lottery games violate it because they simulate slot machines and casino-style gambling.

Lawrence County is set to receive $225,000 from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement fund to expand affordable housing options and finance blight removal. The Ellwood City Ledger reports Lawrence County Department of Planning and Community Development will get $175,000 for the county’s blight removal program, funded by Marcellus Shale impact fee revenue. Meanwhile Housing Opportunities of Beaver County for the Lawrence County Expansion will receive $50,000, funded by realty transfer tax revenue.