Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Jury Acquits Man in W. Mifflin Fatal Shooting

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Jury Acquits Man in W. Mifflin Fatal Shooting

Article excerpt

Zyaire James told a jury Tuesday that he had no idea the woman he'd been dating had a boyfriend - or that the person who tried to attack him twice as he sat in his car at her West Mifflin housing complex in March 2016 was that man, Derek Price Jr.

But he admitted to firing the two shots that killed Mr. Price -only after Mr. Price punched his friend through the window of the car and reached for a gun on the console.

It took a jury of eight men and four women about two hours Wednesday to find Mr. James not guilty.

The prosecution was seeking a first-degree murder conviction; the defense said Mr. James, 24, of Clairton, acted in self-defense.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. James, who wears hearing aids, spent nearly three hours on the witness stand, describing what happened the day Mr. Price, 26, was killed.

He was provided a screen where real-time transcription by the court reporter appeared so he could read the attorneys' questions. Sometimes, Mr. James could hear the questions, but at other times he had to look at the screen.

Mr. James testified that about 7 a.m. March 12, 2016, he and his friend dropped April Pollard off at her home in Mon View Heights.

Suddenly, Mr. James said, Mr. Price approached his side of the car and tried to open the door.

The two men struggled and then, Mr. James testified, he realized the car was still in drive, took his foot off the brake and pulled away.

"I was in shock - trying to figure out why did this happen," he said.

Mr. James called Ms. Pollard to make sure she was OK and asked her if she knew the man. She said she didn't.

Two hours later, Ms. Pollard called and asked Mr. James to pick her up because she was afraid.

What she did not tell him was that Mr. Price, in a rage, had mutilated a teddy bear he bought for her, kicked her air conditioning unit out of a window and bitten her, according to testimony and photographic exhibits. She called police, but Mr. Price left before officers arrived.

Mr. James and his friend, Justin Cheney of Clairton, drove back to Mon View Heights. Ms. Pollard got in the car but then remembered she'd forgotten her keys. …

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