WILKES-BARRE - The Luzerne County District Attorney’s office filed an appeal of a judge’s ruling that excluded the testimony of a witness in the pending homicide trial of Joshua Ovalles.
The notice of appeal to the state Superior Court was filed Thursday, saying the order by President Judge Thomas F. Burke Jr. on July 14 “terminates or substantially handicaps” the prosecution.
Burke ruled that the prosecution could not use the preliminary hearing testimony of 18-year-old Erik Rodriguez. The judge said the prosecution failed to keep the witness, Erik Rodriguez, in the country and available for the non-jury trial last month. Rodriguez fled to the Dominican Republic in April to live with his grandparents.
At the preliminary hearing for Ovalles, 20, Rodriguez testified he heard gunfire outside a South Grant Street residence, looked out the window and saw a man firing a pistol into the air. He later identified Ovalles from a police photo array.
Ovalles was charged in the fatal shooting of Vaughn Kemp, 24, outside a Grant Street residence on July 7, 2013.