Kyon McDonald was charged with fatally shooting Tierees Owens in Plymouth
WILKES-BARRE — Depending how one reviews the calendar — mixed with an emergency judicial declaration suspending defendants rights to a speedy trial — a homicide case from Plymouth could be in jeopardy.
Attorneys for homicide suspect Kyon Dane McDonald, 37, filed a motion in Luzerne County Court seeking to dismiss the case for violations of his speedy trial rights.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, believe otherwise, citing the temporary suspension of the speedy trial rule, known as Rule 600, due to the judicial emergency signed by President Judge Michael T. Vough and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for the coronavirus pandemic.
Judge David W. Lupas, who is presiding over McDonald’s trial scheduled to begin Oct. 25, will be left to figure it all out.
McDonald, of Plymouth, was charged by state police at Wilkes-Barre with an open count of criminal homicide in the fatal shooting of Tierees Owens, 33, outside Robby Nick’s Sports Bar on East Main Street, Plymouth, on Sept. 27, 2018.
McDonald was officially charged Sept. 28, 2018, following a several hour stand-off with state police in Wilkes-Barre Township.
The homicide case proceeded normally through the courts as the case was initially assigned to Judge Tina Polachek Gartley, who scheduled a trial Oct. 15, 2019. After several delays due to court filings by McDonald’s attorneys, Theron Jacob Solomon and Barry H. Dyller, the case eventually was reassigned to Lupas in the fall of 2020.
McDonald’s attorneys and Assistant District Attorney Drew McLaughlin who, along with assistant district attorneys Gerry Scott and Susan Luckenbill, are prosecuting, exchanged more court filings during 2020.
Meanwhile, in March 2020, Vough mirrored the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s judicial emergency basically shutting down court proceedings due to the coronavirus pandemic, which temporarily suspended the speedy trial rights for defendants.
Solomon and Dyller wrote in their motion that prosecutors were not “trial ready” in delaying scheduling the case for trial.
McLaughlin responded that prosecutors never requested a continuance of McDonald’s case as it proceeded through the courts. McLaughlin further noted that Vough ordered two judicial emergencies that lasted from March 17 to Sept. 14, 2020, and Nov. 19, 2020 to Feb. 26, 2021.
McLaughlin also argued in his response that prosecutors, “had to wage its own months long battle to compel production of a copy of a report,” referring to McDonald’s attorneys wanting to introduce an expert witness on crime scenes. He believed McDonald’s attorneys intentionally delayed in surrendering the expert report during the discovery phase of pre-trial preparation, which hampered his efforts in finding a rebuttal expert witness.
A hearing on the motion to dismiss McDonald’s case has not been scheduled.