- Associated Press - Saturday, June 3, 2017

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - An attorney for one of three teenagers charged in the death of a northeastern Pennsylvania police officer who fell 15 feet while chasing them says county prosecutors should be barred from the case because of social media posts made by a former prosecutor.

Public defender Robert Trichilo alleges that the posts by former Lackawanna County assistant district attorney Gene Talerico inflamed public sentiment against Isiah Edwards, and he wants the state attorney general’s office to handle the case, The (Scranton) Times-Tribune (https://bit.ly/2qMHx0d ) reported.

Scranton officer John Wilding was on foot in July 2015 and chasing Edwards and co-defendants Nasiir Jones and Tanner Curtis, who were all 17 at the time and were suspected of having robbed a man, when the officer fell from a 15-foot wall. All face charges of second-degree murder and murder of a law enforcement officer.

Some of the Facebook posts urged people to display signs featuring Wilding’s name and badge number and to attend events in his honor, while others commend Wilding and other officers killed in the line of duty, and there are also posts from Wilding’s relatives supporting Talerico’s run for office.

Trichilo cited an opinion by Harrisburg attorney Robert Davis Jr. who said the posts showed an “increasingly pervasive drumbeat of indirect, but clear, condemnation” of the defendants in violation of rules precluding attorneys involved in a case from making statements that might influence the public and future jurors.

Talerico attorney Brett Datto vehemently disputed that characterization, saying his client never disparaged Edwards or spoke about evidence in the case.

“His only involvement was to support the police and the victim’s family at a time of tragedy, none of which is a violation of any ethical rule,” said Datto, who is representing Talerico on a subpoena issued for an evidentiary hearing scheduled Tuesday on Trichilo’s motion.

District Attorney Shane Scanlon said he is looking into the issues, although he said “I find it hard to believe a defendant would be able to pick his prosecutors.”

“I believe it will fail, but it is something we are looking at based on the allegations raised,” Scanlon said.

Talerico was the lead prosecutor in the case before he resigned in April 2016. He beat Scanlon in last month’s primary election to win the Republican nomination and will face Democrat Mark Powell in the November general election.

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Information from: The Times-Tribune, https://thetimes-tribune.com/

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