TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR APRIL 8TH, 2021

Two New Castle men who are accused in a double homicide from February of 2018 will head to trial in October of this year. The New Castle News is reporting 21 year old Caden Michael Popovich and 21 year old Dohnavin Miller are charged with criminal homicide in the Feb. 25, 2018, shooting deaths of Cameron Martwinski and Justin Luca. The two men, both 19, were fatally shot inside an apartment in a house on Franklin Avenue on New Castle’s East Side. The trial date has been set for October 12th.

A New Castle man who allegedly shot at a school bus carrying Shenengo Elementary students will be sentenced in May after pleading to eight of the thirty-two counts against him. WFMJ-TV reports 42 year old Bryon Benetas appeared in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and six counts of reckless endangering. Twenty-six other charges were dismissed. The incident took place in March of last year on route 65 near route 422. No one was hurt. Sentencing for Benetas is scheduled for May 25.

A COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Beaver County is now taking walk-in appointments.  The clinic located at the Central Outreach Wellness Center in Aliquippa administered about 66 doses of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday and still had more than 200 doses available.  Officials say the remaining doses are being offered to patients across Erie, Washington, the North Shore and Aliquippa.  Central Outreach will also be hosting another vaccination clinic in the Hill District this Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Bedford Hill Apartments.  There is expected to be 300 doses of the vaccine available at Saturday’s clinic.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of more than 46-hundred new cases, pushing it over one-million-54-thousand. About 48 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 25-thousand-285. Lawrence County has 6,789 cases and 197 deaths.

State Police in Mercer County report a Meadville woman faces charges following a one vehicle accident in Perry Township. According to police 56 year old Tammy Westlake was northbound on Perry Highway when she lost control of her vehicle, stuck a ditch causing the vehicle to become airborne before landing on it’s roof. Westlake was not hurt but was charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

Pennsylvania State Police say their firearms background check system set another record.  The P-S-P says over 427-thousand PICS checks happened last quarter, which is the third straight quarter that set a record.  Around 64-hundred were denied after the check while several thousand were referred to local or state police, according to the report.

State education leaders are still planning to keep schools open despite the state’s rise in COVID-19 cases. Health officials say the rolling seven-day case average has stopped increasing, so it seems the state is seeing another plateau. They added that it’s a higher plateau than they’d like to see, but it’s good news. With this, the CDC’s recommendations for masks and three-feet of social distancing in schools, and the state’s efforts to vaccinate teachers ahead of the school year, state officials believe it is safe to open full in-person learning.

An Erie man faces charges following a one vehicle accident in Mercer County. State Police report 35 year old Antonio Thompson was involved in a domestic dispute with the 34 year old female driver of the vehicle, when he allegedly grabbed the wheel causing an accident. No injuries were reported. Thompson faces aggravated assault charges along with a number of other charges.