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King convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 2019 shooting
  • Updated

Anthony King was convicted Wednesday of voluntary manslaughter in the February 2019 shooting death of William Worry III, but the Greene County jury acquitted him on both first- and third-degree murder charges following the seven-day homicide trial.

The conviction on the lesser charge elicited an emotional response from Worry’s family as the verdict was read and the victim’s relatives left the courtroom. Several state police troopers were called to the entrance of the Greene County Courthouse for precautionary purposes, although there was no incident.

As King was led away in handcuffs from the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies, he briefly spoke to his relatives who were gathered in the gallery just behind him.

“I love you guys,” King said.

There was never a dispute over whether King fatally shot Worry in the face with a 12-gauge shotgun inside King’s trailer at 145 Alicia Main St. in Monongahela Township on Feb. 14, 2019. However, the jury determined it was not premeditated, nor done with malice. In addition to voluntary manslaughter, King was also convicted of felony aggravated assault and two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment.

“Whether I agree or disagree with the jury’s verdict, I respect their decision,” Greene County District Attorney David Russo said.

Earlier in the day, both sides made closing arguments in which Russo tried to paint King as a cold-blooded killer while the defendant’s attorney, Harry Cancelmi, said the victim had previously threatened King.

Cancelmi called the victim a “menace” multiple times during his closing arguments as he tried to frame the situation as one in which Worry was the aggressor.

“(Worry) was someone who sought to bully others. Everyone knew who William Worry was and he advertised it on his fists,” Cancelmi said of Worry, who had the words “love” and “fear” tattooed on each hand.

Cancelmi argued that Worry threatened King on the phone hours before the shooting, and previous assaults on other people made his client fearful of what would happen that night. He also blamed Alicia Pressacco, a mutual love interest between the two men, for her behavior that led them to meet that night, and that she knew King did not want Worry in his house as she moved children’s toys and belongings from the residence.

“She’s the one who (brought) the drama and trouble,” Cancelmi said.

In the last few moments inside the trailer, Cancelmi said Worry took an aggressive stance against King, who was holding a shotgun, and then he threatened him once more while daring him to shoot. Cancelmi said Worry “terrorized” others, and he asked the jury to be lenient toward his client after examining the totality of the case.

Cancelmi also painted King as a “good kid” who never caused any trouble. Cancelmi talked about how King’s “dreams” of a life with Pressacco and raising children together turned into a nightmare when she left him without any explanation and then brought Worry over to help her move out.

During Russo’s closing statements, he played a brief cellphone video of the shooting to make his case why the jury should convict King of first-degree murder. Russo argued that King was in a “jealous rage” and was planning to kill Worry the whole time as it became clear Pressacco was leaving the relationship and taking her belongings from his trailer in the Monongahela Township village of Alicia.

“He’s going to eliminate the competition is what he’s going to do,” Russo said.

He reminded the jury that King told multiple people that he planned to “blow his (expletive) head off” before confronting Worry with the shotgun and killing him.

“He said he was going to do it, and he did it,” Russo said. “There was no delay. He walked out of that bedroom with the intention of shooting William Worry in the face. ... Oh, this was a trap.”

With the cellphone video of the shooting playing on a large television monitor for the jurors, Russo walked around the courtroom holding the shotgun used in the killing as he narrated the incident and re-enacted King’s movements in the trailer.

After the fatal shot was fired at Worry’s face while he was carrying a Barbie Dream House play set out of the trailer, Russo directed the jury to continue watching the video as King pumped the shotgun and then hovered over Worry’s body to make sure he was dead. After the video ended, Russo told the jury King should be found guilty of first-degree murder because it was premeditated and later executed in the exact manner in which he told people it would happen.

Worry, 23, of Smithfield, Fayette County, died at the scene.

“If you ever wondered what (first-degree murder) looked like, you just saw it,” Russo said of the video.

But the jury disagreed and acquitted King of the most serious charges. King, 24, has been held without bond at the Greene County jail since his arrest following the shooting. He will be sentenced by President Judge Lou Dayich at a later date.

Law Day and Naturalization Ceremony held at Washington County Courthouse

Young and old filled the benches inside the Washington County Courthouse Tuesday evening, and folks chatted quietly as they waited for the annual Law Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony to begin.

“This is our first in-person celebration since 2019. By the size of the crowd, I think it’s a fair statement that we are all happy to be here,” Rachel Lozosky, chair of the Washington County Bar Association Public Relations and Services Committee, began, welcoming attendees to the 55th Law Day.

“This day is held in high esteem and high affection by our bench and our bar,” she continued. “This day is bigger than any one person’s control. The rule of law is bigger than any one person or any one group.”

Law Day has been celebrated each May since it was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Law Day celebrates the liberty, justice and equality granted through the American Constitution and offers citizens an opportunity to explore the role law plays in society.

This year’s event was hosted jointly by the Washington County Bar Association and the Washington County Bar Foundation, in conjunction with the Observer-Reporter and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Lozosky and Kathy Sabol, executive director of the bar association, presented area students certificates of achievement for projects centered on American law, including bookmarks, artwork and essays submitted for the Law Day contest.

Of the 320 bookmarks submitted by area students in grades two through five, fifth-grader Audrey Heckman, of Trinity South Elementary School, was awarded first place.

There were 26 entries in this year’s creative arts contest, and 18 essays were submitted to the editorial contest, both open to students in grades six through 12.

Trinity High School’s Rayne Elling, grade 11, received first-place recognition for her painting titled, “Our Love is Equal.” Gryffyn Jones, a home-schooled eighth-grader, won this year’s essay contest.

This year’s Citizenship Project Award went to the Trinity Leadership Committee for its “Celebrating Volunteerism” project. The project was led by senior Krista Efaw who, along with peers Emma Bowman, Claudia Cappelli, Macy Comfort, Samantha Dames, Marissa Dobich, Hannah Eisiminger, Anna Johnson, Alexandra Koffler, Emma Lorenzo, Madison Shook, Isabella Naddeo, Luke Webb and Emily Wickham, was awarded $250, to be donated to the Washington Health System’s Teen Outreach Program.

The 2021 Liberty Bell Award, presented to a non-lawyer for work including outstanding service promoting a better understanding of government, encouraging respect for law and courts and cultivating appreciation for law, was awarded posthumously to California Borough Police Chief Timothy Sheehan.

Sheehan’s wife, Kim, accepted the award in her husband’s honor.

“He was very well-deserving,” Sheehan said after the ceremony. “I’m speechless. I was very honored to receive it.”

And 18 new Americans representing 12 countries were honored to take the Oath of Citizenship before Washington County judges and the community.

Steve Rice, field officer director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Service’s Pittsburgh office, presided over the naturalization ceremony.

The courtroom erupted in applause when Rice proclaimed them American citizens.

“I love the people,” said Rosa Eulalia, who immigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador and worked with the Literacy Council of Southwestern Pennsylvania to improve her English and earn her citizenship. “This country is safe.”

Law Day concluded with a keynote speech delivered by President Judge John F. DiSalle.

“Congratulations, new citizens of the United States. Welcome to our nation,” he said. “As you know, the United States was founded by the immigration of people just like you.

“Together, we are all one people, all united under our constitution of equality,” DiSalle said. “We are nothing if we are not a diverse people. It is our diversity which makes us a strong and greater nation. We are much more alike than we are different. All of our citizens are entitled to equal respect and equal protection under the law.”

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Washington woman killed in shooting
  • Updated

A Washington woman was killed in a shooting on Ridge Avenue Wednesday afternoon.

Washington County Coroner Timothy Warco identified the victim as Kristin Ann Barfield, 58, of Washington.

Washington police officers responded to 219 Ridge Avenue shortly after 5 p.m. following a report of a female shot in the chest.

Washington police officers at the scene would not comment, saying additional details would be released Thursday.

According to the coroner, Barfield was transported to Washington Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 5:34 p.m.

Barfield’s cause and manner of death are pending an autopsy and further investigation.

Washington police are investigating.

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Infant formula shortage raises concerns for local parents

Anyone who has ever had an infant in their house can attest that they are hungry little creatures.

They’ll chug down formula like a dehydrated man who has found a fresh-water oasis in the middle of the desert. Then, they’ll be back for more in just an hour or two.

For that reason, parents of infants have been gnawing their fingernails in recent weeks over a shortage of infant formula that has swept across the country. Shoppers at both chain and independent outlets have been confronted with empty shelves where they would typically find brands like Similac, Gerber and Enfamil.

Kathlyn Anne Gencil, a Smithfield resident with a 3-month-old daughter named Leah, said she has enlisted out-of-town friends and relatives to grab formula whenever and wherever they see it.

“It’s just a struggle for everybody,” she said. “It just breaks your heart.”

Infant formula is just one of several staples that has become harder to come by as the worldwide economy recovers from its pandemic slumber, but the problem has become particularly acute due to a recall of product manufactured by Abbott Nutrition, the makers of three brands of powdered formula. It happened after two children died of bacterial infections after consuming formula made at a plant in Michigan. The plant has been closed since February, but formula supples were shrinking even before then.

According to Datasembly, a retail analysis firm, some brands of formula started becoming tougher to find last July, and the trend accelerated through 2021 and into 2022. It’s estimated that 40% of the most popular brands of formula are unavailable on store shelves.

That has left some parents and guardians scrambling, scouring the internet to find where formula is being sold, or trying to find viable alternatives, particularly if their child needs a specialized brand due to allergies or sensitivities, or, like Gencil, they have friends and family do some hunting.

“Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have continued to bring volatility to the category, and continues to be one of the most affected products in the market.” said Ben Reich, the CEO of Datasembly.

If there’s a silver lining for consumers in this region, it’s that Pittsburgh is not one of the cities that has been most severely affected. The metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Minneapolis, Seattle and San Antonio are among those that have been hit the hardest, as well as such states as Texas, Montana, Connecticut, Delaware and New Jersey.

Some outlets have started placing limits on the amount of formula customers can purchase. However, the Shop ‘n Save stores in Canonsburg and Washington have not yet taken that step, according to owner Jeff Duritza. He said only about 10% or so of the customers at those stores need formula, and “I haven’t seen any hoarding. If we see that, that’s when we start placing limits to make product last.”

Duritza added that his son and his wife recently had a daughter and had to switch to a different brand of formula due to the shortage.

According to Dick Roberts, a spokesman for Giant Eagle, the chain of stores is working “to keep our shelves well-stocked with essential grocery and household items as we navigate the many challenges currently facing the grocery industry. Like many areas throughout the supermarket, the availability of select infant formula has been impacted by supply chain challenges and manufacturer limitations. As the situation evolves, we will continue to adapt and work closely with our supply partners to meet the needs of our guests with the products that are available.”

Earlier this week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Food and Drug Administration was trying to expedite imports of foreign baby formula to increase the supply. Pediatricians and health workers have also been sounding the alarm about watering down formula or turning to online recipes. Instead, they say families that can’t track down any formula should contact doctor’s offices or food banks.

Hannah Baluch, of Belle Vernon, has not been able to find the prescription-based formula that her 9-month-old daughter Eloise uses because of allergies and severe reflux, and worries that the child she has on the way will also have allergies that will necessitate using specialized types of formula.

“If the next baby has an allergy, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Baluch said. “It’s getting scary fast.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.