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Charges held against man accused of Slippery Rock stabbing

SLIPPERY ROCK TWP — A man accused of stabbing a guest in the neck at a party last month saw a charge added to his case following a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Feb. 21.

An additional count of felony aggravated assault was held against Brennan J. Steeley, 24, of Greensburg. State police said he stabbed Oliver Valera, of Slippery Rock, with a fixed-blade knife Jan. 15 at the Grove Apartments in Slippery Rock Township.

Steeley was originally charged with one count of felony aggravated assault and misdemeanors simple assault and reckless endangerment. All the charges were held over to the Butler County Common Pleas Court by District Judge Joseph Nash.

Steeley appeared before Nash, who heard testimony from the investigating trooper as well as Valera himself, who displayed a long, vertical scar he received after surgery for the knife wound.

According to Valera, the knife damaged his jugular vein and was “millimeters” from his carotid artery, which “would have killed” him if it had been stabbed.

“He tried to kill me with a knife, stabbed me right in the neck,” he said.

Trooper Dustin Scheerbaum testified the initial report of the stabbing was received by 911 dispatchers around 4:19 a.m. The call was made by Valera’s father.

The second 911 call came from Steeley himself, who told dispatchers he would be waiting outside his apartment for police to arrive.

Scheerbaum said Steeley was present outside as he promised, and he immediately started talking.

“You could tell he was worked up, he was very emotional,” he said. “Mr. Steeley was very up front and honest about the events that led up to it.”

Scheerbaum later stated it was “very apparent” Steeley was under the influence of a substance.

Steeley brought investigators into the apartment and told them he did not know Valera before that night, but welcomed him into the party along with a group of women, according to Scheerbaum.

Valera testified to arriving at Steeley’s apartment with some women he met drinking at a restaurant. He also testified to not knowing Steeley before the gathering.

Drugs and alcohol were being used at the party, Scheerbaum said. He was told multiple people were smoking marijuana from a bong.

Valera also testified to the party activities, but he said he did not bring any drugs, alcohol or weapons to the get together.

Steeley told Scheerbaum he talked with Valera at some point about drug experimentation, and then experienced “symptoms he was unfamiliar with,” including passing out.

“When he came to, (Steeley) believed Mr. Valera had drugged him and others at the party,” Scheerbaum said.

Steeley then told partygoers to go into rooms and lock the doors, then retrieved a curved, fixed-blade knife from his room.

Scheerbaum said he believed Steeley confronted Valera near the stairwell of the apartment, as a large blood splatter covered the wall.

Steeley related to Scheerbaum on scene that he saw Valera reach toward his back, and believed him to have a weapon. He then stabbed Valera, according to Scheerbaum.

A blood trail from the apartment stairs led outside and into the parking lot, where Valera later testified he ran to get help after the stabbing.

Scheerbaum said he spoke with Valera in the back of an ambulance before he was transported to AHN Grove City, then taken by medical helicopter to Allegheny General Hospital for surgery.

During a later interview, Scheerbaum said Valera denied dosing the marijuana or alcohol at the party.

Valera testified he could not remember having a specific conversation with Steeley before the confrontation, which he described as “a flash, a lunge, a physical movement,” where he never saw a weapon.

He added he realized he had been stabbed after seeing his blood, and ran from the apartment, banging on doors for help.

“A couple was generous enough to let me in and saved my life,” he said.

The two people wrapped bandages around Valera’s neck before the ambulance arrived.

While at the Pittsburgh hospital, he said an exploratory surgery was done to examine the damage to his neck. This resulted in the long vertical scar over top of the horizontal stab wound scar on the left side of his neck. According to Valera, he was hospitalized for four days.

During cross examination, defense attorney Joseph Kecskemethy asked Valera if he often went to parties where he didn’t know anyone.

“It’s Slippery Rock,” Valera said. “You don’t usually associate it with violent crime.”

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