911 Call Played In Elderly Funeral Home Director’s Trial
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The murder trial of a 90-year-old defendant is underway in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
It’s unusual in one way because since the defendant has difficulty hearing, he’s at the defense table wearing earphones and a transcript of what is being said is in from of him on a laptop.
It’s unusual in another way because the defendant never denied firing the fatal shots.
Judge Tom Flaherty, hearing the case non-jury, heard the 911 call that demolition worker Ralph Zimmerman made last July in Homestead.
911 Operator: “And your name?”
Zimmerman: “Ralph Zimmerman. Send an ambulance. A man has been shot.”
911 Operator: “Stay on the line okay? Who shot him?”
Zimmerman: “The neighbor across the street.”
The neighbor across the street he mentioned is 90-year-old William Welsh, a Homestead funeral home owner.
Zimmerman says Welsh approached Bill Menni and they exchanged words. Menni was shot twice in the neck.
“The first shot I heard when my back was turned, and I thought it was a firecracker and the kids were playing there,” said Zimmerman. “So, I turned and I saw Mr. Welsh shoot Mr. Menni on the ground the second time.”
I heard one shot, then I saw the second one,” added Zimmerman.
He wasn’t alone. Two girls who used to watch the demolition project with the permission of the victim, who they called Mr. Bill, were there, too.
Vanessa West is now 13.
“And then, when he got shot the second time, he fell to the ground,” she said. “The guy across the lot looked at him, then slowly turned around and walked away toward the funeral home.”
Their mother says it’s been traumatic.
“It’s been touch and go with them,” said Tatanise Marshall. “They still have nightmares every now and then.”
Welsh told reporters and police at the time he shot Menni that there had bad blood between them, that Menni always wanted his way.
When told Menni was still breathing early on, a police witness testified that Welsh replied, “I screwed up. He’s still alive.”
The defense contends Menni was the aggressor.
Defense attorney Frank Walker presents his case Wednesday.