News center
The company is seeking top-notch candidates.


Dec 30, 2023

Jun 3, 2023


HOLLIDAYSBURG — A 19-year-old Altoona man facing second-degree murder and related charges in the Feb. 25, 2020, fatal shooting of 15-year-old Devon Pfirsching is slated for trial later this month in Blair County Court.

President Judge Elizabeth A. Doyle, after turning down Damien A. Green's request for bail on Friday, asked attorneys about moving the case to trial as soon as possible in light of Green's incarceration and state Superior Court rulings.

"The commonwealth is trial ready," District Attorney Pete Weeks told Doyle for what he predicted would be a five-day trial.

Defense attorney Dan Kiss offered the same assurance, prompting Doyle to say if a jury is selected Monday, the trial could be scheduled to start June 26.

The judge also advised the attorneys to set aside time prior to June 26 for review of anticipated witness testimony.

Friday's efforts to move Green's case to trial — a case that's been on hold for years — reflects a May 4 decision by the state Superior Court quashing Kiss’ latest appeal based on a procedural error.

The court's short ruling — five months after Kiss filed the appeal — included no evaluation of the arguments as to whether Green's charges should be addressed in juvenile or adult court.

Kiss said Friday that Green's case needs to move forward.

"I don't want to file another appeal and keep this on hold," Kiss said. "So rather than refiling, we’re heading toward trial."

Weeks has maintained from the beginning that Green's charges should be addressed in adult court and that's where they currently remain. Any sanctions imposed in juvenile court end when a defendant turns 21 years old.

Altoona police accuse Green of making plans with fellow teenagers, Owen Southerland and Logan Persing, to lure Pfirsching to an alley on the 100 block of Fourth Avenue where they would rob Pfirsching of marijuana and cash. Police said the plan turned deadly after Southerland struck Pfirsching with a handgun, which led to a struggle and the firing of the shot that killed Pfirsching.

Southerland, Persing and Omedo T. Davis Jr., who was accused of providing the handgun used in the shooting, addressed their charges in adult court in October 2021 by rendering guilty pleas for negotiated sentences.

Southerland, who pleaded to first-degree murder and related offenses, is serving a sentence of 35 years to life, with the possibility of parole after 35 years.

Persing, who pleaded to third-degree murder and related offenses, is serving 17 to 34 years incarceration, followed by 16 years’ probation.

Davis, who pleaded to third-degree murder and related offenses, is serving 10 to 20 years’ incarceration.

Green's charges, meanwhile, have remained on hold awaiting appellate rulings on whether Green's case should be handled in adult or juvenile court.

The dispute developed after Doyle, in March 2020, delayed the release of her decision to transfer Green's charges to juvenile court.

Her late ruling was the basis for Weeks’ initial appeal to the state Superior Court, which sent the case back to Blair County so the clerk of courts could enter a ruling deeming the transfer of the charges to be denied — for lack of a judicial decision within 20 days of a decertification court hearing as required by law.

Subsequently, Kiss took his arguments to the state Supreme Court as to why Green's case should be handled in juvenile court. But that court returned the case to Blair County and advised Kiss that he had an appeal option before the state Superior Court — leading to the appeal Kiss initiated in December.

In court Friday, Kiss asked Doyle to establish nominal bail for his client who has been incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Pine Grove in Indiana County.

Kiss reminded the judge that because his client was a juvenile at the time of the offense, his potential penalty if convicted of second-degree murder would be 30 years to life in prison. Because Green has a parole option after 30 years, Kiss argued that his client is entitled to bail.

Weeks disagreed and said those charged with offenses carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison are not entitled to bail.

While court rulings have made it "almost impossible" to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without parole, Weeks said the option remains available.

Doyle, who read the applicable law in court, deemed Green to be ineligible for bail, but told Kiss he had presented "a novel legal argument."

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

AACHEN, GERMANYResearch being conducted in AltoonaGrünenthal recently announced that its investigational ...

A New York man who three weeks ago filed a federal lawsuit contending he was being held illegally in the Clearfield ...

Charges have been filed against a New Enterprise man who is accused of trying to hookup with a woman from ...

SUMMERHILL — When faced with an active shooter, people need to run, hide or fight, a former police detective told ...

I'm interested in (please check all that apply) Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *