WILKES-BARRE – Prosecutors in the case of two half-brothers charged with killing three people and injuring a fourth in July are seeking the death penalty against one brother who says he is responsible for being the gunman.
Shawn James Hamilton, 18, and Sawud Davis, 16, appeared in Luzerne County Court on Monday to be formally arraigned on charges connected to the incident, where they entered pleas of not guilty to several related charges.
Prosecutors said they would be seeking the death penalty for Hamilton, on a number of grounds, while attorneys for Davis will be seeking to have his case heard in juvenile court because of his age.
State police allege Hamilton and Davis, both of East Ridge Street, Nanticoke, and formerly of Philadelphia, were inside an apartment on First Street, Plymouth, on July 7 to make a drug exchange of heroin and marijuana.
At one point, police say, Davis pulled out a .40-caliber pistol and fired multiple rounds, killing Bradley Swartwood, 21, Nicholas Maldonado, 17, Plymouth, and Lisa Abaunza, 15, of Duryea, and injuring 19-year-old Daniel Maldonado.
Assistant district attorneys William Finnegan, Rebecca Reimiller and Mamie Phillips said that in their case against Hamilton they are seeking the death penalty because of a number of aggravating factors, including that the killings were committed during a felony, robbery. They say that if Hamilton is convicted of first-degree murder in regard to any of the three victims, prosecutors intend to present victim impact testimony during the sentencing phase.
Davis is represented by attorney Demetrius Fannick, while Hamilton is represented by attorneys Allyson Kacmarski and Robert Buttner.
Judge Michael Vough also scheduled a hearing on a request in Davis' case to be tried in juvenile court for Jan. 11.
State police allege in arrest records Davis opened fire when Nicholas Maldonado reached for heroin packets. Davis allegedly told his half brother, Hamilton, that he couldn't leave any witnesses and shot Swartwood, Danny Maldonado and Abaunza, according to arrest records.
At an October preliminary hearing, Hamilton said he was the gunman, not his 16-year-old brother.
Bloody sneakers and a loaded .40-caliber handgun were recovered from Hamilton and Davis' Nanticoke apartment, as well as receipts for clothes and sneakers bought after the killings, according to search warrant receipts.