PITTSBURGH — The mother of a baby who was killed in a Pittsburgh shooting is demanding justice after learning a man, who is now a witness in the Wilkinsburg mass shooting case, allegedly confessed.
It was 2013 when 1-year-old Marcus White, Jr. died after shots were fired at a family picnic in Pittsburgh’s East Hills neighborhood. Two of his aunts were hurt.
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On Friday, Marcus’ mother, Jameela Tyler, found out through social media that a man allegedly admitted to murdering her son. She was never told about the confession by anyone in law enforcement or the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, according to her attorney, who claims that is a violation of the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act.
That alleged confession came from a man who, according to prosecutors, has provided information on 13 different criminal cases. He is currently a potential key witness in the trial, set to start Monday, for the 2016 ambush shooting in Wilkinsburg that killed five people and an unborn baby during a backyard barbecue. He has not been identified, only known as witness number three.
Paul Jubas, Tyler’s attorney, claims the District Attorney’s Office has decided not to charge the man for Marcus’ murder because it intends to use the man as “a cooperating witness in other cases.”
Jubas is calling for charges to be filed in White’s death, as well as the resignation of District Attorney Stephen Zappala.
The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office released the following statement on Thursday:
"In 2013, in the East Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh, a vehicle containing four persons drove up on an apartment complex and fired multiple shots into a crowd in the common area of the apartments, killing 15-month-old Marcus White Jr.
Understandably, any death of a child resulting from violence motivates both law enforcement and the community to search for answers. However, our office cannot file charges until such time as evidence exists to sustain and prove those charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Appropriately, an Allegheny County investigating grand jury was employed as an effective way to coordinate information concerning multiple instances of violent crime, including homicides, connected to specific groups of individuals in the City of Pittsburgh. This approach has thus far resulted in numerous arrests for acts of violence, homicide and otherwise, and the work of law enforcement in this effort is ongoing.
The assumed work product of the grand jury as it pertains to the death of Marcus White Jr. and other violent crimes is protected by confidentiality. Consequently, the rules and statutes governing that confidentiality prohibit a more specific response.
To make a statement that law enforcement is not absolutely and unconditionally dedicated to combating violence of any kind and anywhere in the City of Pittsburgh and throughout Allegheny County is insulting to the men and women charged with protecting our community each day."
The Allegheny County Police Department also released a statement:
"We are under a gag order in regard to the Wilkinsburg case you referenced. But we can state with absolute certainty that if information concerning the death of Marcus White came to the attention of the Allegheny County Police, we would have referred it to Pittsburgh Bureau of Police investigators.
I believe the District Attorney’s Office just issued a statement in regard to the Marcus White homicide. Their statement accurately addresses the complexities involved in the investigation, prosecution and release of information related to violent criminal activities in Allegheny County."