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LATROBE (KDKA) — A judge has thrown out all gun charges filed against a man considered to be person of interest in the disappearance of a woman from Latrobe.
The judge determined the state did not provide enough evidence in the case against Thomas Stanko, and threw the charges out Monday morning.
“There has to be evidence,” said defense attorney David Shrager. “It can’t just be an assumption, it can’t just be an allegation.”
District Justice Michael Mahady threw out 28 counts of illegal firearms possession held against Stanko, Shrager’s client.
“He listened to all the testimony and made a fair decision based on the law,” said Shrager.
DIstrict Justice saying prosecution case is based on “assumptions” with evidence to hold this case for court.
— Ross Guidotti (@RossGuidotti) April 30, 2018
Prosecutors claim the 47-year-old Stanko, a convicted felon, held the deed to the home where the guns were found, and therefore, was in illegal possession of the weapons. Two of which were stolen.
Stanko’s 81-year-old mother lives in the home on White Fences Lane in Unity Township.
Almira Stanko took the stand Monday, testifying most of the gun were her dead husband’s and a few may have been her son’s hunting rifles. She also said she never saw her son bring any guns into the home and that he’s not around much.
“He moved out of the house when he was 18, and has lived on his own for 25 years,” Shrager said.
Judge Mahady said he saw nothing connecting the guns with Stanko and tossed the charges. He did, however, hold one count theft against Stanko for his passion of a stolen ATV.
The guns and quads were discovered after state police searched the property looking for clues into the disappearance of Stanko’s ex-girlfriend, Cassandra Gross.
She was last heard from on April 7, and Stanko is considered a person of interest in her disappearance. Her family contends that Gross is dead and Stanko is responsible.
However, Stanko’s attorney says he is not.
“I can’t even imagine what they’re feeling right now, but, at the same time, I have to do my job for my client, and I have to protect my client’s civil liberties,” Shrager said.
Stanko being held in Westmoreland County Jail despite the gun charges being dropped. He’s eing held on $5,000 bond for the ATV theft charges and had his bond revoked on a prior simple assault charge in Greensburg.