MOUNT CARMEL — David Matthew Brown helped the accused killer of Sean Maschal cover up the homicide of a man they claimed to be their friend, according to new criminal charges filed Wednesday on the day before the second anniversary of the murder.
Brown helped Brian Heffner conceal evidence of the homicide, knowing he was making those items unavailable to officers performing the investigation. 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.
And, 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.
Mount Carmel Patrolman Michael Pitcavage on Wednesday filed charges against Brown, 35, of Ashland, in the Mount Carmel office of District Judge William Cole. Brown is facing thirteen felonies: criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, criminal conspiracy to commit theft, theft, criminal conspiracy to commit receiving stolen property, receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy to possess a firearm while being a convicted felon, possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon, aiding consummation of a crime, four counts of hindering apprehension; and two misdemeanors: tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
Mount Carmel Police Chief Brian Hollenbush referred questions about the timing of the charges to District Attorney Tony Matulewicz. The district attorney was unable to be reached Wednesday.
"The charges are finally being brought," said Hollenbush.
Brown, currently a state inmate at SCI-Chester on unrelated charges, has not yet been arraigned on the new charges.
Brown and another witness Robert Villari, 32, of Coal Township, told police that Brian Heffner, 38, of Coal Township, 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.
Heffner, in police interviews, admitted that a gun went off, but he said he was too high on bath salts to remember who was holding the gun. Those interviews cannot be used for evidence because Judge Charles Saylor determined police violated Heffner's Fifth Amendment rights when Heffner asked for a lawyer multiple times during an October 2017 interview with three police officers.
Police: Brown harbored stolen items
Following a search warrant at Brown's home, police seized several items of suspected blood-stained clothing and a black backpack belonging to Maschal.
Brown, in an interview with police on Sept. 13, 2017, originally claimed that Maschal owed gang members money from the Lebanon area and they were responsible for his death. Brown denied having direct involvement with Maschal's homicide, but it was later learned that the information Brown provided was misleading and led the police investigation away from the actual suspects, police said.
During another interview with Brown on Sept. 21, 2017, he told police that he was present when the homicide occurred and provided descriptive details that only someone involved or present at the time of the crime would know, police said.
According to police documents, Brown admitted to being the driver of a red Dodge Durango when Maschal, in the front seat, was shot in the back of the head by Heffner on Route 901. Brown said he knew the handgun was stolen from a vehicle in Ashland and he planned to trade the gun for drugs in the Lebanon area, police said.
Brown admitted to being with Heffner and Villari when they dumped Maschal's body near a dirt path in a wooded area near Locust Gap. The three men took Maschal's bookbag, cell phone and other personal items and then concealed the items in the home in Ashland, police said.
Brown said no one called or attempted to call 911 or render aid for Maschal, police said.
Brown told police he drove to the Lebanon area with Heffner and Villari to deliver the handgun to another person in exchange for drugs, police said.
Police: Villari hid gun materials
Villari, according to the police report, was "present during the time a crime had been committed involving a handgun in Mount Carmel Township" on Sept. 12. He is charged with two felony counts of owning a firearm as a convicted felon and conspiracy and two misdemeanor counts of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice.
Villari "admitted to removing the magazine from the gun and discarding the bullets that were in the magazine, while he would have known that he was making those items unavailable to officers performing the investigation that would be instituted," police said.
Villari also allegedly admitted to police that he disposed of his clothing and the magazine from the gun inside a sewer drain, which was recovered by police, according to court documents.
Villari told police "that the handgun was delivered to another person in the course of a transaction to obtain drugs for the defendant’s use. It was the defendant’s intention to conspire with another person to possess, control and transfer the firearm to another person to obtain drugs," according to court documents.
No upcoming court dates for Brown, Heffner or Villari are scheduled at this time. Matulewicz previously said he expected Heffner to be brought to trial in early 2020.