Pittston homicide suspect’s attorneys ask if witness is fit to testify

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Spencer -

WILKES-BARRE — The defense team representing the suspect in a Pittston homicide filed a motion in county court Monday, claiming they have the right to know what medication is being taken by a key prosecution witness.

Stephen Jamal Spencer, 31, stands accused in the July 2017 shooting death of 32-year-old Christopher Williams outside Saints & Sinners Irish Pub.

Spencer’s trial has been continued twice so far this year, most recently because a “material witness” for prosecutors sustained some sort of serious injury, according to a filing Monday from Spencer’s attorneys, John Pike and Mary Deady.

The trial was recently pushed from Sept. 10 to Oct. 1 at the request of prosecutors, the filing states, as the witness required surgery for the injury and would likely be under the influence of drugs that would affect their ability to testify.

Now, Pike and Deady’s motion aims to compel prosecutors into disclosing what medications the witness might be on and if those medications would limit competency.

The witness’ identity is not disclosed in the filing, and it remains to be seen how prosecutors and Luzerne County President Judge Richard M. Hughes III, who is presiding over the case, will respond to the defense team’s filing.

Spencer was initially set to stand trial in July, but it was delayed to September after prosecutors asked for more time to prepare for an expert witness for the defense.

The defense team plans to argue Spencer used reasonable force when shooting Williams after an altercation at the bar.

Police say the trouble started when Williams’ cousin, Marty Williams, refused to shake Spencer’s hand. Marty Williams said in previous testimony that he does not “socialize with anybody not my race,” suggesting racial tension played a role in what happened. Spencer is a black man; the Williams family is white.

Pike has said his client acted in self-defense, pointing to his cooperation with police and a legal permit to carry his firearm.

Spencer remains locked up at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail.


By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan