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Suspect In Officer's Shooting Has Alibi Says Lawyer

Suspect In Officer's Shooting Has Alibi Says Lawyer

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via YellowBrix

April 08, 2011

CLAIRTON, PA – The attorney for a man charged with shooting a Clairton police officer said witnesses misidentified his client when they pegged him from a photo lineup as the gunman, and police have arrested the wrong man.

Attorney Fred Rabner said Myles J. Hutchinson, 21, of McKeesport, who is charged with attempted homicide, assault on a law enforcement officer and a string of other crimes, was elsewhere during the Monday night shooting on Miller Avenue.

Officer James Kuzak, 39, remained hospitalized at UPMC Mercy Thursday. He was shot three times when a pair of gunmen burst out of a house where he and two other officers were responding to reports of a home invasion.

County police were still hunting for the second suspect Thursday and arrested a man who they said is a friend of Mr. Hutchinson’s on an unrelated bench warrant. The man, whom police would not identify, was taken to county police headquarters in Point Breeze for questioning, but he is not being charged in connection with the shooting. Police had still not identified the second suspect as of Thursday night.

Mr. Hutchinson was charged on Tuesday after two witnesses provided county police detectives with physical descriptions of the intruders and both witnesses pointed to Mr. Hutchinson as one of the intruders while looking at a photo lineup, according to a criminal complaint.

A district judge denied him bail after his arrest.

“This is a heinous act, and my client and his family’s prayers go out to the officer and the victims,” Mr. Rabner said. “The perpetrator of this crime should be brought to justice, but the police have the wrong man in custody.”

Mr. Rabner would not elaborate because, he said, he is “in the process of verifying the various elements of the alibi” and is “in the process with an investigator to gather evidence to free my client.”

County police Lt. Andrew Schurman, who is overseeing the investigation, did not return calls seeking comment.

Mr. Rabner called the photo lineup a “fallible” form of evidence and said Mr. Hutchinson’s relatives received a copy of a warrant to search their home that indicated police were searching for ski masks, dark clothing, hooded sweatshirts, suggesting the intruders’ faces were concealed.

A bail hearing for Mr. Hutchinson is scheduled for today in Common Pleas Court, though Mr. Rabner said he might ask that it be postponed because he was retained on Thursday. He added that he had not had a chance to talk to his client.

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