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Man charged in murder of New Ken police officer wants to marry key witness

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — The man accused of killing a New Kensington police officer wants to marry a key witness against him.

Prosecutors are trying to put a stop to Rahmael Holt's wedding, saying it could interfere with the case.

Holt is charged in the death of Officer Brian Shaw, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in November.

After the shooting, prosecutors say Holt's girlfriend, Vanessa Portis, drove him around, and he remained on the run for days. She was also the owner of the cellphone Holt dropped as he reportedly ran from the murder scene.


"These two have been in a relationship for quite some time," said Tim Dawson, Holt's attorney. "I don't see why the county or the state would step between them."

But according to court documents our news partners from obtained from prosecutors, the marriage could be a way to keep Portis from testifying against Holy.

They say testimony from a spouse could be barred from a trial.

Portis, who was never charged, previously testified against him and her story could be crucial to getting a conviction.

Prosecutors wrote: "The commonwealth speaks now lest we be compelled to forever hold our peace."

"They're thinking this is some measure from the defense wanting to gain something in this case and it's not," Dawson said. "It's two people who want to get married. Inmates get married all the time."

It's unclear if prosecutors can actually prevent Holt from getting married.


But under the law, an inmate must get a judge's approval. The judge is expected to schedule a hearing.

Channel 11's legal analyst Phil DeLucente told Channel 11 that strategically from the defense's standpoint, it wouldn't have any relevance because they weren't married before it happened.

"Mr. Holt's future bride would have to testify either way. She would not be able to have the shield of privilege under Pennsylvania law," Delucente said.

A hearing to decide if the marriage can happen is scheduled Aug. 16.