Kuzak Shooting Suspect Says Confession Coerced

Article excerpt

One of two suspects charged in connection with a violent home invasion that resulted in the shooting of a Clairton police officer claims he was coerced by Allegheny County investigators into giving a recorded confession.

Emilio Rivera, 26, of McKees Rocks, took the stand Friday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Edward Borkowski's courtroom for a pre-trial motions hearing.

Rivera and Marcus Andrejco, 19, of Rankin, face charges that include criminal attempted homicide, criminal attempted rape, indecent assault, two counts of assault of a law enforcement officer, one count of impersonating a public servant, one count of criminal conspiracy, four counts of aggravated assault, five counts of recklessly endangering another person, four counts of robbery, four counts of unlawful restraint and one count of burglary, according to court documents.

Charges stem from an incident on April 4 around 10:45 p.m. at 860 Miller Ave. in the City of Prayer.

Part-time patrolman James Kuzak was one of three officers to respond to the scene that night. He was greeted with five gunshots from a fleeing suspect in the rear of a duplex.

Attorneys for Rivera and Andrejco are attempting to have evidence removed before the April trial.

One of the key pieces of evidence is a recorded confession of Rivera's involvement in the incident.

At Friday's pre-trial motions hearing, Rivera said he was barefoot and shackled in an interview room when he was questioned by county detectives Gregory Matthews and Mike Feeney on Oct. 26 into Oct. 27.

Rivera testified that he several times denied any involvement in the incident, and that his requests for an attorney were ignored.

Matthews, who testified prior to Rivera taking the stand, said Rivera "was very cooperative" and "wanted to tell the truth" while at county police headquarters.

Rivera was arrested on Oct. 26 around 2:30 p.m. in Crafton in connection with a separate incident.

He is charged with criminal solicitation to commit murder in the plotting of a different home invasion in Allegheny County.

Rivera testified that he talked to someone he identified as Shawn Ball about the separate home invasion, and that he told investigators about that plot after signing a Miranda Rights form.

Matthews testified Rivera was questioned about the Kuzak case following recorded statements about the other incident.

Rivera said he was coerced into confessing about the Clairton home invasion during that time. …