- Associated Press - Saturday, October 5, 2019

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. (AP) - A judge has ordered the defense to turn over to prosecutors some background material on a man charged in the shooting death of a western Pennsylvania police officer almost two years ago.

Defense attorneys had argued that their case would be damaged if prosecutors were given the report detailing reasons why the life of 31-year-old Rahmael Sal Holt should be spared should he be convicted in the slaying of New Kensington officer Brian Shaw, the Tribune-Review reported.

Attorney Tim Dawson said a mitigation specialist concluded that Holt has no mental health or intellectual disabilities, but societal issues that impacted his life and upbringing could persuade jurors to impose a life term rather than capital punishment.

Holt, who is charged with first-degree murder, has maintained that he wasn’t the one who fired the shots that killed Shaw following a November 2017 traffic stop in New Kensington.

Dawson said details in the evaluation include witnesses and other factors, which he declined to discuss in detail, and he argued that prosecutors aren’t entitled to view the material until sentencing.

Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway, who had ordered the report turned over by Sept. 10, said Friday her review of a preliminary draft indicated that keeping it from prosecutors wasn’t warranted.

“I can’t see anything that prosecutors would use. Your client’s background is irrelevant to whether he shot officer Shaw,” Hathaway said. “If the jury does not find him guilty of first-degree murder, then this is all moot.”

Prosecutors have indicated that they will seek capital punishment should Holt be convicted of first-degree murder, and the same jury would then weigh aggravating circumstances about the crime against mitigating factors offered by the defense.

Jury selection is scheduled Oct. 28 with testimony to begin Oct. 4.


Information from: Tribune-Review, http://triblive.com

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