Luzerne County judge to rule today on whether homicide suspect’s comments admissible at trial

Last updated: September 19. 2013 11:19PM -
SHEENA DELAZIO sdelazio@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE – A Luzerne County judge said he’ll make a ruling today on whether statements a homicide suspect made to police will be used at his Monday trial.

Judge Michael Vough heard the rest of testimony Thursday after a pretrial hearing in the case of George Lee Barnes, 23, was put on hold last week when Barnes became ill and was taken from a county courtroom in a wheelchair.

Barnes appeared to be in better health Thursday and was walking while being escorted by county sheriff deputies.

He is charged with killing Daron Rhashan Trollinger, 26, at an Edwardsville apartment complex on May 16.

Barnes shot Trollinger during a marijuana sale inside an apartment building at Eagle Ridge on Beverly Drive, according to state police at Wyoming. Federal marshals captured Barnes in Philadelphia on May 25.

Assistant district attorneys Molly Hanlon Mirabito and Brian Coleman were in the process of calling witnesses last week to testify that Barnes had agreed to allow police to obtain DNA and other evidence when Barnes became ill.

Mirabito and Coleman called the last of their witnesses, Trooper Stephen Polishan, to complete his testimony before Vough heard arguments from the prosecutors and Barnes’ attorneys.

Prosecutors also will be seeking to present to a jury that Barnes has prior involvement in carrying a gun and drug dealing based on a recent unrelated conviction and sentencing. Vough said he’ll make a ruling on that issue as well.

Barnes’ attorneys, John Pike and Paul Galante, were seeking to have evidence thrown out, including statements Barnes made to police while at a hospital being treated for gunshot wounds.

The officers testified they were notified of the shooting and were told to go to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center to ensure the safety of a gunshot victim — Barnes. He suffered a wound to the chest and a bullet grazed his forehead.

The officers testified Barnes agreed to search warrants, appeared to be coherent and was speaking with police.

Barnes told police he went to visit a friend at the apartment complex, but his friend was not home so he was in the process of leaving when a Hispanic male pointed a gun at his head. Barnes said there was a struggle and the gun went off a number of times, so he fled.

While running, Barnes said, he became short of breath and realized he had been shot. He went to his nearby home and his girlfriend called 911.

Barnes said the man with whom he struggled was someone familiar, but that he could not remember the man’s name, according to testimony. Barnes said he could identify the man’s clothing and some tattoos, and recognized him to be in the “Philly mafia” street gang.

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