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Alleged killer faces trial in second case
The New York man charged in the homicide of a Mount Wolf teen is facing a trial on unrelated charges in York County Court of Common Pleas.
Police say he fired at a man during a drug deal and also threatened his mother and her children in Jackson Township in March.
Northern York County Regional Police charged Edia Antonio Lawrence, 18, of Torrey Avenue in the Bronx, New York, with with aggravated assault, discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure, simple assault, terroristic threats and reckless endangerment.
On Friday, District Judge Thomas Reilly deemed there was enough evidence for Lawrence's case to be transferred to county court.
Testimony: According to charging documents, Jeremy Moffitt had arranged to buy marijuana from Lawrence, with the intention of reporting him to police. Moffitt was "extremely upset" because Lawrence provided drugs to his friend who had been clean for a while, police said.
On the night of March 15, Lawrence showed up at Moffitt's home, in the 5200 block of Lincoln Highway, and the two wrestled in his detached garage after he told Lawrence he was going to call police, documents state. Moffitt stabbed Lawrence with a knife, causing Lawrence to leave the garage, police said.
Lawrence allegedly said "Just give me my my s— and I'll leave," according to court documents.
He then went to the back of the home and talked with Moffitt's mother, Christine Moffit, outside, police said.
During Friday's preliminary hearing, Christine Moffitt, the only person who testified, recounted what had allegedly happened that night.
She said she had just come home from Wal-Mart with her other son and wasn't home long when Lawrence knocked on the back door of her home, saying Jeremy Moffitt had robbed her.
Christine Moffitt said the two walked behind the home, and Lawrence stopped her at the detached garage. She said Lawrence told her Jeremy Moffitt was inside.
Christine Moffitt remembered asking Lawrence what was going on, and she said Lawrence kept saying, "Did I stutter?"
She said the doors to the garage were locked, and she tried opening the garage door but wasn't able to. She recalled her son saying "no, no," from inside.
"Things just didn't seem right to me," she said.
Christine Moffitt said she was going to call police, which caused Lawrence to pull a gun on her, she testified.
"Next thing I know he was pointing a gun at me ... and told me 'No, you're not,'" she said.
Christine Moffitt said Lawrence wanted her to get her son out of the garage, and when she couldn't, he threatened her other children.
"At that point he told me, 'You have other kids in your house, I'll shoot them,'" Lawrence said, according to Christine Moffitt.
After that, she recalled running back toward the house and yelling to a neighbor to call police.
At that point, she remembered her son opening the walk-through door of the garage and that Lawrence had walked in and fired his gun.
"I ran into the garage then," she said. "I thought he was dead."
She said Lawrence then fled, but she did not know which direction he fled.
Attorney's argument: Jack McMahon, Lawrence's Philadelphia-based attorney, argued that since she said Lawrence fired into the garage and not at Jeremy Moffitt, his charge of aggravated assault is not appropriate.
"If in fact he wanted to cause serious bodily injured, what's to stop him?" he said after the hearing.
McMahon said he believed it was just a "pissed off" shot that Lawrence fired, since he was angry that he did not get his marijuana back.
McMahon also said the knife and the gun in the alleged incident were both Jeremy Moffitt's. He said Lawrence took the gun away from Jeremy Moffitt when they wrestled.
"(There's) no doubt in my mind that this guy tried to rob my client," he said.
He said Lawrence brought Christine Moffitt outside so he could get his product back.
"Criminals don't do that," he said.
Lawrence's preliminary arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. June 16 in front of Judge Gregory Snyder.
Homicide: Northeastern Regional Police say Lawrence was one of three masked men who fatally attacked 19-year-old Ahshantianna Johnson at her Mount Wolf home in March.
Lawrence is charged with homicide, burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, attempted simple assault by menacing, making terroristic threats and several counts of robbery.
Police said he is known by the name "Richie" and that for a time he lived on Matthews Drive in Conewago Township with his aunt and attended Northeastern High School.
According to police, about 2:15 a.m. March 25, three men barged into the home Johnson shared with her mother, Noemi Capo, and started stealing property.
One of the men threatened Capo with a metal baseball bat and a knife, demanding she call her daughter and have her come home, police said.
Capo eventually reached Johnson by phone and told her she needed to come home because there was a family emergency, documents state.
While threatening Capo, Lawrence spoke about killing her sons, charging documents allege.
Capo escaped from the trio while they were distracted; she ran to a neighbor's house and called 911, police said.
That's the same time Johnson returned home and was fatally attacked in her backyard, according to police.
Northeastern Regional Detective Brian O'Melko tracked down witnesses who told him Lawrence was selling drugs to other drug dealers and that Johnson had collected money from at least two of those dealers on Lawrence's behalf, documents allege.
Johnson and Lawrence used to go out and had broken up a few months before she was killed, but she apparently was still working for him, Chief Bryan Rizzo said last month.
Rizzo said at the time that investigators were still searching for Lawrence's accomplices.
McMahon, who is also representing Lawrence in that case, declined to comment about it after Friday's hearing.
Lawrence's preliminary hearing in the homicide case is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 31 at District Judge Robert Eckenrode's office. He remains in York County Prison without bail.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.