SUNBURY — The Commonwealth and the defense attorney of David Brown both oppose a motion to join Brown's case with that of accused killer Brian Heffner.
Following arguments on the motion from Heffner's defense attorneys on Monday, Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor said he would review the information and issue a decision within the next 15 days. Saylor noted the unusual nature of the defense asking to join the cases instead of the Commonwealth.
Witnesses Brown and Robert Villari Jr., 33, told police that Brian Heffner, 39, fired the gun that killed Sean Maschal, 33, of Mount Carmel, in Mount Carmel Township on Sept. 12, 2017, according to a criminal complaint. Maschal was found the next day, off Route 901 in a wooded section of Mount Carmel Township, east of Locust Gap. Mount Carmel Township Police arrested Heffner on April 12, 2018, and charged him with 14 counts, including homicide, aggravated assault and robbery.
Brown helped Brian Heffner conceal evidence of the homicide, knowing he was making those items unavailable to officers performing the investigation, according to court documents. He harbored Heffner in his home in Ashland, provided transportation to Heffner before, during and after the homicide, concealed evidence and provided false information, police said.
Police said they didn’t call or attempt to call 911 or render aid for Maschal. Instead, they dumped the body in a wooded area near Locust Gap, robbed him and then sold the murder weapon for drugs in Lebanon, police said.
Court-appointed defense attorneys John L. McLaughlin and Michael Dennehey, of Danville, argued that Brown and Heffner are charged with identical conduct with the exception of the homicide charge against Heffner. They said there is case law to show that co-conspirators can be tried together.
Lincoln argued she and her client would be at a disadvantage since Brown was only charged late last year while Heffner was charged more than two years ago. She is still reviewing the case and is not yet even cleared to enter the prison to review the evidence with Brown.
District Attorney Matulewicz cited the United States vs. Bruton that would prevent him from using Brown's statement against Heffner in a joint trial because it implicates Heffner.
"They're trying to join the trial and eliminate the Bruton clause and eliminate a major piece of evidence," said Matulewicz.