Ovalles accused in July 7 death of Vaughn Kemp, 24

Last updated: June 09. 2014 11:51PM - 1626 Views
By - rdupuis@civitasmedia.com

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WILKES-BARRE — A city man accused in a shooting death last summer has waived his right to a jury trial, opting for a trial by judge instead.

Joshua Ovalles, 20, faces an open count of criminal homicide in the July 7 death of Vaughn Kemp, 24, outside 174 S. Grant St. Witnesses have said they saw Ovalles fire shots into the air.

President Judge Thomas F. Burke Jr. today granted Ovalles’ request, scheduling a bench trial for 10 a.m. July 14.

Burke also ordered there shall be no further continuances in the case, “absent extraordinary circumstances.”

Ovalles is represented by attorney Peter J. Moses.

In a separate case last month, Ovalles was convicted in a Jan. 9, 2013, attack on Michael Kubiak, whom he shot in the leg, chest and face while they were driving to buy heroin in the city. Kubiak survived the attack.

Kemp’s death six months later occurred while Ovalles was free on $100,000 bail in the Kubiak case.

Ovalles remains held in the county prison without bail in the alleged homicide case, and sentencing in the Kubiak shooting is set for July 1.

In the Kemp death, two witnesses who testified for the prosecution in district court in August said they saw Ovalles fire shots into the air. Those individuals, 22-year-old Raymond Duval and a teenage boy, were were among 25 to 30 people who attended a party at the South Grant Street home.

Kemp died of multiple gunshot wounds, Deputy Coroner Dan Hughes testified in August.

The boy said he was in the house when he heard gunfire. He looked out of a second-floor window and saw a man holding a pistol and yelling.

Duval testified he was talking to a friend in front of the house when 25 to 30 people walked out from the backyard. He ran when Ovalles fired rounds in the air and did not know what happened to Kemp, he testified.

Moses responded then that Ovalles said he was innocent, which Moses felt was supported by the fact that neither witness saw Ovalles fire a gun at Kemp.

“He maintains his innocence in this case,” Moses said after Ovalles’ arraignment in October.

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