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Charges upgraded in deadly shooting

by on March 07, 2014 11:00 AM

GREENSBURG — An Indiana County man, jailed since early December on charges that he shot his girlfriend in her home in Derry Township, has now been charged with homicide in her death.

Arthur Whitfield, 51, of Josephine, stands accused in the death of Holly George, also known as Holly Embry, who was shot Dec. 1 and died Dec. 19 at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.

State police at Greensburg filed the charge Wednesday, a general count of criminal homicide, along with one count of burglary and two firearm violations.

A preliminary hearing is set for March 20 in Bradenville District Court.

Whitfield earlier was held for trial on aggravated assault and related counts, based on a criminal complaint filed immediately after the shooting and while George was being treated for her wounds.

Bradenville District Judge Mark Bilik held Whitfield for trial in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court on allegations that he broke into George’s house near Torrance, pushed his way into George’s bedroom, where she had been watching TV with her daughter, and shot her at least nine times.

Police said Whitfield fled the house and hid several hours while police and search teams combed the area for him. Neighbors later spotted him hitchhiking along Route 217 and summoned state police, according to reports.

Police first charged him with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, burglary, criminal trespass, discharge of a firearm in an occupied structure, prohibited possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm without a license. Bilik bound the case for court on Dec. 11.

Investigators then considered upgrading the charges to homicide following George’s death.

The Westmoreland County district attorney’s office commissioned pathologist Cyril Wecht, of Pittsburgh, to perform an autopsy. Wecht, following the examination, declined to discuss the findings.

District Attorney John Peck said this morning the charges were delayed to await completion of detailed toxicology tests, “to make sure there were no surprises,” and while administrative work being completed.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office reported George’s death was listed as a homicide caused by multiple gunshot wounds.

Whitfield is represented by attorney Joseph Massaro Jr. of the Westmoreland County public defender’s office.

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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