Man wanted in connection with murder in McKeesport turns himself in; still no charges filed

Man wanted in connection with murder in McKeesport turns self in

MCKEESPORT, Pa. — A man wanted in connection with the shooting death of a motorist believed to have been caught in the crossfire between two cars earlier this month in McKeesport has turned himself in.

Authorities said 73-year-old James Ponzo, of Glassport, died of a gunshot wound discovered after his vehicle crashed into another vehicle on Nov. 4. Officials said he's believed to have been "an innocent victim" who was struck by gunfire as he was driving away from a gas station and preparing to attend a cousin's funeral service.

County police had been seeking 18-year-old Rashawn Walker, who was also wanted on two unrelated warrants, and was considered armed and dangerous.

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Channel 11’s Joe Holden was there on Nov. 10 as Walker turned himself in to police.

Walker’s lawyer, Randall McKinney, said his client is innocent.

“Based on info I have, Mr. Walker was not involved and was not responsible,” he said.

McKinney said Walker is “upset” and “frustrated” after having just spent 19 months in prison on another homicide charge in which he was found not guilty.

McKinney said he had been in close contact with Walker for a day, negotiating his surrender.

A week after he turned himself in, Walker has not been charged in connection with Ponzo’s death.

Ponzo’s funeral was held Nov. 10,  hours before Walker turned himself in.

The pastor of Queen of the Rosary Church, where Ponzo was a member and volunteered his time, said he hopes some clarity will be brought to the case now that someone is in custody.

“I think they will find the truth, whether there is a guilty person or it was accidental,” Pastor Miroslau Wojcicki said.

Despite McKinney’s beliefs that his client is innocent, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said he thinks the investigation is headed in the right direction.

“He's been in and out of the system for quite a bit. What can I tell you? We like him on the shooting,” Zappala said.

McKinney said it’s not a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for his client, but said Walker was not at the scene of the crime at all.

“With respect to the new case, there is no evidence that has been presented to me that puts him anywhere near where the shooting took place. He's not in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's not there,” McKinney said.

Walker is being held in a juvenile detention center on an unrelated gun charge from when he was 16.

McKinney said he’s working to clear his client of that charge so Walker can move on with his life.

“My condolences go out to the Ponzo family. What happened is a tragedy, but Rashawn Walker was not involved. Obviously someone was,” McKinney said.