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Judge considering motions in Muddy Creek Township homicide case

Daniel C. Lloyd

A county judge is considering several motions about potential evidence in a 2022 homicide case in Muddy Creek Township, which might be delayed because a vital prosecution witness is in a Florida prison.

Common Pleas Judge Timothy McCune said he is taking arguments on the motions from Monday, April 22, under advisement and will issue orders in the case.

The defendant, Daniel C. Lloyd, 21, of Pitcairn, Allegheny County, is facing homicide and conspiracy charges in the June 11, 2022, death of Frederick Orr, 32, of Columbus, Ohio.

The homicide case against former co-defendant Nicole L. Schwartz, 38, of Ellwood City has been severed from Lloyd’s case because she is testifying against him as a cooperating witness. McCune granted the district attorney’s motion to sever the cases in March. Schwartz is being represented by the public defender’s office.

State police allege Schwartz picked up Orr, who she used to date, after he was released from jail, and Lloyd, who was hiding in the back of the vehicle, forced Orr outside on Kelly Road and shot him.

Assistant District Attorney Ben Simon said Dylan Hinchberger, 30, is a vital witness and agreed to be extradited to Butler County, but the Hillsborough County, Fla., sheriff’s office won’t release him until his case there is resolved.

Court records indicate Hinchberger was arrested on a fugitive warrant and is being held in Florida on a probation violation stemming from his conviction on a felony charge of robbery while in possession of a firearm in 2015. A status review for the alleged probation violation is scheduled for May 2.

Hillsborough County deputies arrested Hinchberger earlier this month while he was being held in the Lawrence County Jail in case that has been dismissed, Simon said.

Trials for Lloyd and Schwartz are scheduled for the week of May 6. Simon said the plan was to pick up Hinchberger from Florida on May 2 and return him May 9 after he testifies.

McCune did not rule on Simon’s request for a new trial date.

Motions to exclude

Lloyd’s attorney, Joseph Scioscia III, filed motions to exclude some evidence and include other evidence.

Arguments about seven motions regarding evidence were made by Scioscia, Simon and Assistant District Attorney Robert Zanella. The attorneys said they previously resolved issues raised about other motions.

They argued over admitting as evidence a surveillance video that Zanella said shows Lloyd stealing a gun from a gun shop in Verona, Allegheny County.

Zanella said the gun used to shoot Orr has not been recovered. He said grooves on bullets recovered from the crime scene are left by only two brands of guns, including a Glock, and a Glock is missing from the gun shop.

“It shows he stole and owned the murder weapon,” Zanella said. “Our case begins with that.”

Scioscia said a case is pending against Lloyd in Allegheny County, and because the evidence in the Allegheny County case is directly related to the evidence in the Butler County case, it is improper to use that evidence unless and until the Allegheny County case has been resolved.

Simon said records from cellphone towers that show Lloyd’s location at various times should be allowed as evidence. Scioscia said the tower information shows where Lloyd’s phone was located, but doesn’t prove he was at those locations.

The jury should be allowed to see the vehicle in which Orr was shot, and arrangements have been made to bring the vehicle to a garage in the courthouse for the viewing, Simon said. He said seeing the vehicle will help the prosecution prove Lloyd was hiding in the back of it before he shot Orr.

Scioscia countered that the vehicle has been damaged from being stored outside in a state police impound yard for two years and being “torn apart” while being processed for evidence. He said jurors can be allowed to see photos of the vehicle.

Simon argued a recording of a call Lloyd made from jail to his brother indicates he was in Schwartz’s garage after the shooting, but Scioscia said the call was made months after the shooting.

Scioscia said he should be allowed to use Hinchberger’s 2015 conviction to attack his credibility. He said Hinchberger has a record of other convictions that he also should be allowed to use.

He said plea agreements made with Schwartz and another witness must be disclosed to the jury.

Simon said Hinchberger’s criminal history shows only one conviction in Florida, and another witness has a retail theft case pending in Butler County.

McCune said any deals the district attorney’s office makes with witnesses must be disclosed.

Jurors should be allowed to see a close-up photo of Orr’s body where it was found and one of him in his shirt with bullet holes, Simon said.

Scioscia said the jury only should be allowed to see a photo of Orr’s shirt. The photo of him in the shirt is overly prejudicial, he said.

McCune said photos of the body in a murder case are extremely important.

During the jury selection process, it is not appropriate to ask potential jurors about racial bias, Simon said. He said the suspect and victim are Black.

Scioscia said he had no position on that motion.

McCune said the vast majority of jurors from the county are white, and not asking about racial bias could lead to years of appeals if there is a conviction.

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