Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Informants' Credibility at Issue in Wilkinsburg Massacre Case

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Informants' Credibility at Issue in Wilkinsburg Massacre Case

Article excerpt

Defense attorneys for two men accused of killing six people at a Wilkinsburg cookout last year have called into question two jail-house informants cooperating in the case against their clients.

Both of the men, Kendall Mikell, identified in the criminal complaint as Witness No. 1, and Frederick Collins, identified as Witness No. 2, have cooperated with prosecutors multiple times in the past.

Mikell, 29, has testified in two other homicide cases and was listed as a possible witness in a third - although the prosecutor on that case chose not to call him, telling the court he found him to be not credible. And Collins told police he has testified in two homicide trials and cooperated in at least two others.

The information on the informants is contained in motions filed by the attorneys for Cheron Shelton, 30, of Lincoln-Lemington, and Robert Thomas, 28, of Homewood. They are accused of killing Jerry Michael Shelton, 35, Brittany Powell, 27, and Chanetta Powell, 25, and their cousins Tina Shelton, 37, and Shada Mahone, 26, on March 9 at a cookout on Franklin Avenue. Chanetta Powell was eight months pregnant.

Randall McKinney, who represents Shelton, and Casey White, who represents Thomas, have filed a variety of motions in the case, seeking additional discovery information specifically regarding Collins and Mikell, and what, if any, promises or offers have been made to them for their cooperation in the case.

The criminal complaint dedicated 3 pages of information to the informants, who told homicide investigators that both Thomas and Shelton told them separately of their involvement in the Wilkinsburg shootings while they were housed together at the jail.

Specifically, Mikell told police that Thomas told him he urinated in a garage in an alley near the shooting scene, and that he worried investigators would be able to obtain his DNA there. The affidavit noted there was a garage similar to what Mikell said Thomas described near the crime scene.

Collins told police that Shelton told him they targeted Lamont Powell, who was injured but not killed in the shooting, because they believed he had been involved in an earlier homicide of Calvin Doswell. Shelton told Collins, the affidavit said, that he had an assault rifle that night, while Thomas had a handgun. Mikell provided investigators that same information, as well.

The affidavit noted, too, that Mikell's information that Thomas told him they were stopped by police early on the morning after the shooting is confirmed by Penn Hills police, who said there was a field contact with Shelton at 2:18 a.m. Because there were no active warrants for him, though, they let him go.

According to various court records, Mikell has cooperated in at least three other homicide cases in recent years in Allegheny County. …

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