Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Second suspect charged in drug deal gone bad

by on March 23, 2013 10:59 AM

An Allegheny County man is facing charges for what police say was his role in the kidnapping and attempted killing of a 19-year-old following a drug deal that went awry last summer.

According to state police in Indiana, Dwayne Maurice Jefferson, 31, of West Homestead, along with co-defendant Marlena Lynn Jones, 35, of Homestead, tried to shoot Thomas A. Pierce III and set him on fire July 16 in a wooded area off Route 286 in Young Township.

Jones, who earlier this year pleaded guilty in the incident, was sentenced on Friday. While police knew another person had taken part, they only recently learned Jefferson’s identity. He was arrested earlier this week.

Police said the incident began when Jones called Pierce, of Mercer County, to ask if he knew where she could buy drugs.

Testifying during Jones’ preliminary hearing in August, Pierce said Jones and a man who was unknown to him — police say it was Jefferson — later arrived at his home, and he then directed them to a low-income housing project in the Pittsburgh area and a person he knew there, where she bought cocaine.

On the way back to his home, Jones tried to cook the cocaine, Pierce said. But it wouldn’t melt, and Jones began to accuse him of taking part in a plan to rip her off, he said. She and Jefferson then drove Pierce to her home outside of Pittsburgh, where they held him at gunpoint and told him to strip, according to charging documents.

They then bound him with tape, gagged him with a sock, and injected him with insulin.

Pierce said he was taken to the wooded area, where Jones tried to shoot him. The two also doused him in lighter fluid and threw him into a fire, Pierce testified.

Pierce said that to get away, he rolled down a hill, with the two chasing and kicking him. He said he rolled into a creek and laid there. Apparently thinking he was dead, Jones and the man left, Pierce said.

Jefferson’s identity had been unknown to police until February, when Jones identified him. Upon learning his name, police obtained an arrest warrant, and Jefferson eventually was apprehended by police in Allegheny County, according to District Attorney Patrick Dougherty.

He is charged with attempted homicide and conspiracy to commit each of the following: kidnapping, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, simple assault and reckless endangerment.

Jefferson was arraigned before District Judge Susanne Steffee on Monday and placed in the Indiana County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 cash bond.

Meanwhile, Jones, who had pleaded guilty in January, was sentenced Friday before President Judge William Martin for her role in the incident. She is facing three to seven years in state prison.

Jones had been charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, kidnapping, simple assault, unlawful restraint and reckless endangerment. But under a deal with prosecutors, she pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault and kidnapping charges, and the other charged were withdrawn.

Sam Kusic is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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