Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Cleared suspects ask court for bail

by on February 06, 2014 11:00 AM

GREENSBURG — Three of four suspects in connection with a drug-related slaying near Torrance have asked to be granted bail and to be released from jail since a Westmoreland County judge in December dismissed the homicide charges that had been filed against them.

An attorney representing Jesus Santiago, of Quarry Road, Derry Township, filed papers Monday asking Judge Richard McCormick to release Santiago on nominal bond or to set a reasonable bond for his release.

Santiago and co-defendants Tiffany Blattenberger and Danielle Clawson were cleared in mid-December of second-degree murder charges filed against them almost one year earlier in the death of Michael Volk, of New Florence. Only Ronell Moses Jr., of Pittsburgh, faces homicide charges in Volk’s death.

Lawyers representing Clawson, of West Wheatfield Township, and Blattenberger, of Quarry Road, filed similar bond motions early last month. No decisions have been handed down.

All have been held without bond since their arrest, and no trial dates have been set.

Now facing only counts of robbery and conspiracy, Santiago has spent more time in jail than he would if he were convicted and given the minimum sentence for those charges, attorney William Gallishen wrote in a motion asking for his release.

State police charged that Volk arranged to meet Moses to buy drugs from him on Dec. 29, 2012, at Santiago and Blattenberger’s residence, but came up with a plan to rob Moses while he traveled to the residence with Clawson.

In the course of the robbery, Moses turned a gun on Volk and killed him, state police reported.

Because they knew of the plot, troopers charged each of Volk’s companions with a general count of homicide and a count of second-degree murder for his death, and arrested them after taking their statements following the incident.

Moses, who fled the area following the shooting, was arrested six days later and charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and making terroristic threats.

Judge John Blahovec ruled in December that Santiago, Blattenberger and Clawson did nothing to cause Volk’s death and dismissed the homicide and murder charges.

Santiago “has been incarcerated well in excess of 180 days … and therefore should be granted release on nominal bond,” according to the motion. “Additionally, even if (Santiago) had been convicted of the two remaining charges, it is believed that his minimum sentence would not exceed the time that he has already spent incarcerated.”

A hearing to consider modifying Santiago’s bond has been scheduled for Feb. 25.

Online court records show no responses yet to the requests from Clawson and Blattenberger to be granted bond.



Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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