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A look back at cops and courts stories in 2020

Some of the most memorable stories on the cops and courts beat in 2020 happened before the words pandemic and COVID-19 were part of our daily lives with February being an exceptionally eventful month.

In January, a jury found Elizabeth Chinn, 35, guilty of the murder of Timothy Pahl, 67.

Chinn broke into Pahl’s home on Stewartstown Road on April 22. Chinn fell asleep in his bed and hid in a closet when she heard Pahl coming home. A fight ensued and Pahl was shot and killed with his own gun.

In addition to finding her guilty of first-degree murder, the jury convicted Chinn of burglary, grand larceny and two counts of conspiracy. Jurors also decided Chinn would not receive mercy and will die in prison.

Chinn is being held in Lakin Correctional Center in Mason County.

February saw a rockslide on Monongahela Boulevard which caused a car crash that seriously injured a 65-year-old woman. Rocks also rolled across all four lanes of traffic and through a fence onto the PRT tracks.

A PRT car collided with the boulder and injured a West Virginia University student.

Both the driver of the vehicle and that student are involved in on-going lawsuits over the incident.

In July, work began to install a drape mesh system to prevent future rock slides.

On Feb. 28, WVU student Eric J. Smith, 21, of New Jersey, was shot and killed at his apartment in College Park.

Terrell Linear, 21, and Shaundarius Reeder, 20, of Fairmont are charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing Smith.

They are being held in North Central Regional Jail without bond. A trial is scheduled for February 2021.

According to police, video footage showed the two entering Smith’s building and, less than two minutes later, running out with Linear holding a gun in his right hand.

Linear told police he entered the building, pounded on multiple apartment doors so people could witness him shooting and killing the victim, then shot Smith multiple times when he opened the door, according to a criminal complaint.

Tragedy struck the Mon County community on Dec. 3 when a fire on Days Run Road killed 2-year-old Summer Eddy. Her mom, Brandy, said she thinks Summer was scared by her husband Jonathan yelling for the family to get out of the house.

Jonathan was sent to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh and placed on a ventilator after inhaling soot, smoke and possibly flames while searching for Summer in the burning house. He recovered.

Brandy said the community really came together with donations and help for the family, and they paid that kindness forward. Summer’s toys at relatives’ houses were donated to kids for Christmas. Their son, 4-year-old Spencer, received more coats than he could possibly use, so some were given to families in need.

Almost $6,000 was raised for the family on GoFundMe.

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