Luzerne County’s 2013 proved to be a deadly one by posting the fourth highest number of homicides — 19 — in more than four decades, according to records from the Coroner’s Office.
Homicides in Wilkes-Barre reached double-digits for the first time in 10 years as 13 people died at the hands by another, statistics show.
The number of killings in the county’s largest municipality was noticed by Gov. Tom Corbett and state Attorney General Kathleen Kane during their separate editorial board meetings with The Times Leader in December.
Corbett called the homicide spike “an anomaly,” the same term Police Chief Gerard Dessoye used during an impromptu news conference on July 19, a day after David George, 24, was gunned down outside his mother’s house on South Welles Street.
According to court records and Times Leader archives, 12 people were killed by gunfire and an infant died as the result of blunt force trauma in Wilkes-Barre.
Statistics from the coroner’s office does not include the death of another infant from Wilkes-Barre in early 2013 because the baby died in another county.
Cecilia Nin, 7 months old, died at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Montour County, on Jan. 7.
District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said Nin’s death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy.
City police obtained search warrants for Nin’s medical records and for the South Franklin Street apartment where she lived with her mother, Karaliz Nin. The search warrant affidavit says Nin suffered a skull fracture and numerous rib fractures. No charges have been filed.
From 2003 to 2012, there were 34 homicides in Wilkes-Barre. The year 2009 had the most with eight intentional killings, the highest number of homicides until 2013.
There were 14 people gunned down, two died from beatings, one by drowning, one by murder/suicide and another in a murder/suicide attempt.
Only the years 1982 (32), 1983 (26) and 1986 (20) had more homicides in the county than 2013. There were 19 homicides in 2006, according to coroner’s records.
The record year was when George Banks gunned down 13 people, including five of his own children, in Wilkes-Barre and Jenkins Township.
Five people were killed in vehicle crashes in the county, which are not counted among the 19 homicides.
District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said 2013 was a difficult year for homicides and violent crime.
Pressure on D.A.
“As the numbers seem to be increasing each year, we try to provide all the resources to help local police departments and state police,” Salavantis said. “It has been very taxing on the office.”
In addition to the 19 homicides and five vehicular deaths in 2013, Salavantis said her office continues to work about 35 open homicide cases from prior years.
“We only have 25 attorneys to keep on top of every case in this office,” she said. “What is changing are the types of cases. There seems to be more violent crime occurring in our area.”
Salavantis said she is hopeful County Council will approve her budget request to hire three additional assistant district attorneys for 2014.
Here is a list of the homicides in 2013:
• Jan. 17: Jamel Martin, 20, South Welles Street and Leroy Smith, 42, North Empire Street, both in Wilkes-Barre, were fatally shot outside Don Kasper’s Watering Hole tavern on Scott Street, Wilkes-Barre. No charges have been filed.
• Feb. 22: Everett Matthew Black, 2, died from drowning when he was found in a bathtub inside a home on Warsaw Street, Swoyersville. No charges filed.
• Feb. 23: Angel Villalobos, 19, Hazleton, was fatally shot on West Maple Street, Hazleton. Adamis Arias, 21, Hazleton, was charged in the homicide.
• March 16: Renold Julien, 26, Wilkes-Barre, was gunned down outside Locals 88 tavern on Poplar Street, Wilkes-Barre. No charges filed.
• April 25: Derrick Cottle, 40, South Hancock Street, Wilkes-Barre, was fatally shot on Reno Lane, Wilkes-Barre, in what authorities said was a dispute that began during a basketball game. Shauntae Thomas, 37, of Reno Lane, was charged with criminal homicide.
• June 25: Zachary Williams, 23, Wilkes-Barre, was killed inside a home on North Sherman Street, Wilkes-Barre, while playing with a handgun. Brandon Switzer, 23, Nanticoke, was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
• June 7: Vaughn Kemp, 24, Park Avenue, Wilkes-Barre, was killed in a shooting at a house party on South Grant Street, Wilkes-Barre. Joshua Ovalles, 19, Wilkes-Barre, was charged with criminal homicide.
• July 18: David George, 25, South Welles Street, Wilkes-Barre, was killed in a shooting in front of his mother’s house on South Welles Street. No charges filed.
• Sept. 13: Christopher Narainasami, 18, Hazle Avenue, Wilkes-Barre, was fatally shot while he was walking with friends in Boulevard Townhomes, South Welles Street, Wilkes-Barre. No charges filed but Jordan Stevens, 27, Wilkes-Barre, was captured as a “person of interest.”
• Sept. 26: Jane Aiello, 46, Andover Street, Wilkes-Barre, was killed in a shooting allegedly by her estranged husband, Vito Aiello, 47, inside their home. Vito Aiello survived a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was charged with criminal homicide.
• Oct. 6: Jonathan Garay, 26, Alter Street, Hazleton, was fatally shot by a Hazleton police officer investigating a large fight in the area of Second and Alter streets, Hazleton. District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis ruled the shooting justifiable. No charges filed.
• Oct. 13: Michael Onley, 34, Madison Street, Wilkes-Barre, was fatally shot in the patio area of Outsiders Bar & Restaurant, South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre. No charges filed.
• Oct. 13: Antonio Evans, 8 weeks old, died at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital after being found with bruises on his body inside a home at 351 N. Washington St., Wilkes-Barre. No charges filed.
• Oct. 27: Camryn Shultz, 2, was killed by her father, Nicholas Shultz, 34, inside his home on Wesley Street, Forty Fort. Nicholas Shultz took his own life.
• Nov. 6: Eduardo Madera, 46, Wilkes-Barre, was fatally shot inside an East Northampton Street, Wilkes-Barre, home. Lamar Curry-Davis, 19, was charged with criminal homicide.
• Nov. 11: Shantique Goodson, 27, Wilkes-Barre, was gunned down when sitting inside a parked vehicle in the Sherman Hills apartment complex, Wilkes-Barre. Kenneth Evans III, 21, of South Empire Street, Wilkes-Barre, was charged with criminal homicide.
• Nov. 28: Gertrude Price, 97, Nanticoke, was found beaten to death inside her East Grand Street, Nanticoke, home. No charges filed.
• Dec. 17: John Dulsky, 38, last known address East Liberty Street, Hanover Township, was fatally shot outside a law office on Wyoming Avenue, Forty Fort. Brian Pavia, 39, Plains Township, was charged with criminal homicide.
Here is list of vehicular homicides:
• April 10: Victim Daniel Markowski, 68, Nanticoke, on the Sans Souci Parkway, Hanover Township. John Ward, 21, Nanticoke, was charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence.
• May 12: Victim Jean Darsky, 65, Jenkins Township, on Westminister Street, Jenkins Township. John Kuniskas, 37, Jenkins Township, was charged with vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter.
• July 7: Victim Nickolas Zurilla, 59, Nanticoke, on West Union Street, Nanticoke. Tyler Duda, 17, of Wyoming, was charged with vehicular homicide and third-degree murder.
• Aug. 14: Victim Fred Kleman Jr., 42, Plymouth, on Nottingham Street, Plymouth. Lorenzo Burgos, 23, Third Street, Plymouth, was charged with criminal homicide.
• Sept. 9: Victim Shane Stewart, 25, Missouri, in McDonald’s parking lot on Kidder Street, Wilkes-Barre. No vehicular homicide charges have been filed but Patrick R. Ramirez, 25, of Missouri, was charged with aggravated assault and driving under the influence.