PITTSBURGH (AP) – Text messages that included emojis or digital ideograms were cited as evidence in the charges against a man accused of homicide in the deaths of two people in a shootout in western Pennsylvania last fall.
Michael St. Clair, 24, of Beaver Falls was ordered Friday to stand trial in Allegheny County on homicide charges in the deaths of 17-year-old Diondre Dozier and 18-year-old Martin Brown Junior. He also faces robbery, conspiracy and firearms counts.
Police allege that the defendant, who was also shot himself multiple times, told them that he and a friend went to buy marijuana Nov. 17 and were accosted by a man with an assault rifle and another man.
Prosecutors cited text messages on his phone, including a series of emojis or digital ideograms depicting a running man, an explosion and a firearm. The text messages read “We’re going to go hit that lick,” and “Let’s get at it.”
Assistant District Attorney Michael Berquist argued that the messages indicate that St. Clair knew there would be an incident involving firearms.
Defense attorney Steven Valsamidis argued that prosecutors hadn’t proven that his client was involved. Valsamidis also said Dozier was apparently killed with a military-type rifle and Brown by a .22-caliber handgun, and there had been no testimony from his client’s firearm.
“At this point, it’s speculation at best as to what Mr. St. Clair’s role in the homicide was,” he said.
Berquist said, however, that it was immaterial whether the defendant “pulled the trigger.”
“He’s liable for the acts of himself and a co-conspirator,” he said.
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