KINGSTON – Attorneys for George Lee Barnes, accused in the shooting death of Daron Rhashawn Trollinger in an alleged drug deal gone bad in Edwardsville in May, unsuccessfully lobbied a judge on Tuesday to dismiss charges against their client.
At Barnes' preliminary hearing before District Judge Paul Roberts, Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney Molly Hanlon Mirabito presented evidence that Barnes, 22, of Main Street, Edwardsville, shot Trollinger during a marijuana sale inside an apartment building at Eagle Ridge on Beverly Drive on May 16.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Roberts ruled there was sufficient evidence to send the case involving robbery and homicide charges to county court. The homicide charge precluded Roberts from even considering bail, and Barnes was remanded to jail to await arraignment.
Police said Trollinger, 26, of Roosevelt Street, Edwardsville, was found with a gunshot wound to the chest behind the building. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Barnes told investigators he was visiting a friend at the Eagle Ridge apartments when he was confronted by a Hispanic male with a handgun. Barnes said he was shot at during a struggle for the handgun that was pressed against his head.
A round grazed Barnes' forehead above his left eye and ear. He told police he fled the building and returned to his apartment where his girlfriend cleaned his head wound and called Luzerne County 911.
But according to police, two unnamed witnesses said they were with Barnes the night of the shooting and that they went to Eagle Ridge with him to buy marijuana from Trollinger. The witnesses met with Trollinger in a stairwell of building G6. One of the witnesses said Barnes burst through a rear door brandishing a revolver. The witnesses fled the building.
One of the witnesses heard gunshots, met up with the other witness and heard additional shots as they ran across a field behind the apartment building to Barnes' residence. The other witness said that when Barnes later returned home, there was blood on his T-shirt.
At the same time Barnes was released from the hospital on May 17, state police said they recovered a 22-caliber revolver wrapped in a jacket hidden in a kitchen cabinet and a bloody T-shirt inside Barnes' apartment. An arrest warrant was issued for Barnes on May 22, and he was captured on May 25 in Philadelphia.
Attorney John Pike argued the prosecution failed to show evidence to support a first-degree murder charge, which requires evidence of intent, nor did the prosecution produce evidence to support a robbery charge.
Hanlon Mirabito said evidence showed Barnes clearly was there to commit a theft of marijuana, and the attempted theft was enough to sustain the count of robbery.
She also cited case law that specific intent can form in an instant. Even if the defense argued successfully that Barnes did not go to the apartment building with the intent to kill anyone, a jury could find that two separate sets of shots being fired – one set in the stairwell and then another outside – show that intent was formulated by the time Barnes left the stairwell.