Donora murder suspect sentenced to stand trial | Local News

Jevonne Malachi Crawford told Dakota Johnston “you know why we’re here” moments before pulling out a handgun and shooting her in the head inside a house in Donora last month, according to one. testimony during his preliminary hearing Friday on homicide and other charges.

Crawford then turned the gun on Johnston’s girlfriend Tionya Gaston, shooting her four times, although she was able to escape the house and get help, she said during of the audience.

Gaston testified that she and Johnston were in their bedroom watching television late while her 6-year-old son slept downstairs on a sofa when she heard a knock on the door of their home at 333 Third St. in Donora on May 28.

When she answered, she found Crawford and two other men standing at the door, as well as a woman inside a car parked outside the house. She knew the men, so she let them in and they went up with her to see Johnston, she said.

“They were already drunk, acting like they wanted to go out,” Gaston said. “But after five minutes it got weird.”

Crawford, who had a handgun in his pocket, began laying unspecified charges against Johnston, implying that he knew the reason they had come to the house, she said.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Gaston remembers, saying Johnston. “What are you going to do?”

At that point Crawford pulled out the handgun and shot Johnston in the head a few yards away, Gaston said.

Gaston said she turned and saw the barrel of Crawford’s gun pointed at her face. Gaston was then shot down with four bullets, with bullets hitting her in the left ear, left shoulder, right arm and left hand as she crouched down for protection. Gaston had bandages covering her gunshot wounds as she testified at the stand, and said she still had a bullet fragment in her jaw.

The two men with Crawford escaped the house and at least one left in the car parked outside, Gaston said. But Crawford stayed upstairs, picking up shell casings and pouring cleaning solution on Johnston and Gaston, who was lying on the floor in a fetal position with a hooded sweatshirt over her. Gaston heard Johnston regaining consciousness, she said, but Crawford “choked him” seconds later.

Gaston then ran away from the house and found clients still inside the Fraternal Order of Eagles nearby, where she asked them to call 911.

“We needed help,” she said.

Crawford was later arrested after a brief foot chase that ended in the woods near the house, State Police Soldier Robert Schmid testified. He was found with a .45 caliber handgun and 148 bags of stamps containing suspected heroin, Schmid said.

While being held in the back of a police car, Crawford allegedly admitted to killing Johnston, according to body camera video carried by a Charleroi police officer that was released during Friday’s hearing.

“I know I killed someone,” Crawford can be heard saying on the video. “I will spend the rest of my life in prison.

Johnston, 26, was taken to Mon Valley Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Washington County Coroner Timothy Warco said Johnston was shot twice, one to the forehead and the other to the left temple.

While Crawford initially faced charges of the felony of homicide and attempted homicide, First Deputy District Attorney Jason Walsh added several new charges in the case on Friday. Crawford, 22, of 4 Mellon Ave., Donora, now faces additional charges of not carrying a firearm, theft, simple drug possession, drug possession with attempted delivery, forgery evidence and aggravated assault.

After hearing testimony for nearly an hour, District Judge Mark Wilson ordered Crawford to stand trial on all charges. Crawford appeared for his preliminary hearing via video conference at Washington County Jail, where he has been held without bond since his arrest the day after the shooting.


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