GREENSBURG (KDKA) – The trial for a man charged in the shooting death of a New Kensington police officer is about to begin.
All the jurors and alternate jurors are now seated for the death penalty trial of Rahmael Sal Holt — a trial which is slated to start Monday.
Holt is accused of shooting and killing officer Brian Shaw in November 2017 during a traffic stop.
Twelve jurors and four alternate jurors will hear the case.
“One important fact in this case – and it’s been an important fact since the preliminary hearing – is there is no murder weapon found,” says Phil DiLucente, a defense attorney.
“And so I can see the defense continually trying to persuade the jury that that is a critical piece of evidence that is the only link to Mr. Holt to this officer’s fatal death.”
DiLucente has been following the case. He’s not surprised that the Westmoreland County DA plans to seek the death penalty if Holt is convicted of first-degree murder.
“What everyone has to keep in mind, though, is since it’s an aggravating circumstance – meaning it’s a police officer while an alleged felony was taking place or in a midst of a felony — those are aggravating circumstances that can lead to a district attorney pursuing a death penalty,” DiLucente says.
During an intense manhunt for Holt, several people, including his relatives, were charged with hindering apprehension for allegedly helping him elude police.
Meanwhile, Holt’s attorney says it’s a tragic case but Holt did not shoot Officer Shaw.
The trial is expected to last about a week.