The verdict remained in force in the case of the shooting at Wilkes Bar

WILKS-BORE – Lucerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklaroski Jr. has rightly upheld the sentence of a Pitston man convicted by a jury for conspiring with his cousin in a shooting at Wilkes-Barre, the appeals court ruled Monday.

25-year-old Giza Michael Morgan appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, arguing that his sentence was illegally increased when Sklaroski allowed prosecutors to use lethal weapons for firearms involved in the shooting.

Wilkes-Barre police accused 21-year-old Morgan and Onge Crowder of shooting at an occupied apartment on Lockhart Street on March 18, 2019. At least six shots were fired at the residence. There are no victims.

Following a trial in October 2020, a jury found Morgan guilty of two counts of aggravated assault and the use of firearms in an occupied facility, and one count of forgery of evidence and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.

Prior to Morgan’s sentencing on March 25, 2021, Assistant District Attorney Drew McLaughlin petitioned for the inclusion of improvements to lethal weapons because of the firearms involved in the crime.

Sklarosky granted the request, sentencing Morgan to five years, six months to 11 years in state prison with two years probation.

In his appeal, Morgan claimed he was only a driver, unaware that a firearm was hidden under the passenger seat, and unaware that Crowder intended to release ammunition into the housing.

A panel of three members of the Supreme Court rejected Morgan’s appeal in a 12-page opinion.

The Court of Appeal ruled that although Morgan had never touched or handled firearms, the firearms were under his “direct control”.

“Based on our review of the record, we do not notice any abuse (Sklaroski) in the use of lethal weapons to the verdict (Morgan). (Sklaroski) duly determined that (Morgan) was under the direct physical control of a deadly weapon at the time of the crime because of his close physical proximity to an armed accomplice, ”the Supreme Court said.

According to the court, Crowder pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and was sentenced to four to 10 years in prison with a two-year suspended sentence.

Back to top button