JEANNETTE, Pa. — A Jeannette woman dared Westmoreland County jurors to convict her Friday. After nearly two hours of deliberations, they complied.
Deborah Samulski, 62, was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of filing false reports with a local gas company and city police, according to our news partners at the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review. During a two-day trial, jurors questioned her mental health, and sheriff’s deputies had to search for Samulski and return her to the courthouse Friday morning in handcuffs after she failed to show up.
“I believe we have a mental health issue,” defense attorney Jennifer DeFlitch said at the completion of the trial.
Judge Tim Krieger ordered Samulski to remain in jail pending a sentencing hearing. She faces up to seven years in prison, according to the Trib. She was found not guilty of one count of simple assault, in which police claimed she sprayed mace into a man’s face. Her accuser did not testify during the trial.
Samulski is scheduled to appear in court next week for a bond hearing in an unrelated criminal case in which she is charged with weapons of mass destruction, risking catastrophe, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, the Trib reported.
In that case, police contend Samulski blocked access to water lines at her house and poured sulfuric acid drain cleaner into her pipes, which injured three Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County workers as they attempted to restore her shutoff service in November.
She has three other criminal cases pending in connection with allegations she made false reports to authorities on other occasions.
Friday’s trial involved two cases in which police said that, in May 2020, Samulski filed a false report of a gas leak at her home and made repeated calls to Jeannette police seeking to have people who she claimed were uninvited guests removed from her home after being told she needed to file eviction notices to do so.
Assistant District Attorney Allen Powanda told jurors police acted properly and had no basis to unilaterally remove paying tenants from Samulski’s home, according to the Trib.
The defense contended there was no evidence the couple paid to rent a room in her residence.
“She believed they had no right to be in her house,” DeFlitch said.
Midway through its deliberations Friday, the jury asked the judge if it was permitted to consider Samulski’s “cognitive state,” a condition that was not specifically addressed during the short trial.
“I’m not crazy,” Samulski raged as she was led from the courtroom after the jury’s question.
During testimony earlier in the day, which she gave against her lawyer’s advice, Samulski proclaimed her innocence and yelled at the judge and assistant district attorney.
“Never mind, just convict me,” Samulski said as she stormed off the witness stand.
The judge ordered Samulski to undergo a psychological exam while in jail.
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