Linaweaver convicted in election day shooting

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   A jury of seven women and five men pronounced Loy D. Linaweaver guilty of voluntary manslaughter and felony evading arrest Wednesday afternoon in the August 2002 death of a Hampton man.
   Linaweaver, 43, of Somerset, Pa., had been indicted on a charge of second degree murder, but, after deliberating for more than two hours, the jury decided to convict him of the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter.
   State law defines second degree murder as "the knowing killing of another," while voluntary manslaughter is "the intentional or knowing killing of another in a state of passion produced by adequate provocation sufficient to lead a reasonable person to act in an irrational manner."
   During his testimony in court Linaweaver told the jury that he and Carl Irick went to Street's Trailer Park, located off of Rittertown Road, so that Irick could speak to a member of the family about some business. Linaweaver said that, soon after the two men arrived, Bill Street assaulted Irick, and Randall Street, Bill Street's son, threatened Linaweaver with a gun.
   Linaweaver said that, prior to the assault, Irick exited the van the two were traveling in and walked toward the house and that he followed him, but before getting to the house, he heard Randall Street speak to him. "Randall yelled and said 'I told you not to be down here. Get in your van.' So I took off running for my van because I thought I heard him say something about a gun," Linaweaver said, adding that when he got to his van, he looked through the back windows and saw someone attacking Irick with a stick.
   Irick was struck several times with the stick, according to Linaweaver, and more than one person was taking part in the assault. Linaweaver then stated that he heard something bang against the back of his van. "At that point I felt like I was being attacked," he told jurors. "I was pulling away because I thought I was being attacked." He then stated that after he heard the banging noise he drove the van forward approximately 40 yards and, after he stopped, he saw Randall Street with a gun pointed at his head. "It upset me. It provoked me. It scared me," Linaweaver stated. He also stated that he was not the first person to fire a weapon and that, in his opinion, someone fired two shots at his vehicle while he was in it.
   At that time, Linaweaver said he reached into the floorboard of his van and picked up a .38-caliber revolver and tried to "get a bead on" Randall Street, according to his testimony. "I couldn't get Randall in my sights but I got Bill in my sights after he hit Carl in the head one good time," he stated, adding that after he shot Bill Street, Irick then made it to the vehicle. "Carl got in the van and he was splattered with blood all over his face and his shirt and he said, 'You shot me.'" Irick sustained a gunshot wound to the arm in the incident.
   Irick, who testified on behalf of the defense, told the jury quite a different version of the events that happened to him. He stated that he went into Randall Street's residence trying to find out where Street's younger brother, Billy Street, lived and was told that he lived a few trailers down the road.
   Irick said when he left the trailer, Randall Street approached him and asked him to leave the property. "I come out of the gate and he just said 'Leave.' He was real mad when he seen me," Irick told the jury.
   Irick, who was by his own testimony intoxicated when he went to the Street residence, stated that Bill Street then approached him and told him to leave before hitting him just above his left ear with a stick, leaving a cut which required stitches. "I never looked back. When he hit me I just took off running," Irick said. "I probably got about three steps when Loy started shooting. He probably fired three or four shots."
   Bill Street was the only person to strike Irick and only struck him once, according to Irick's testimony. Irick further testified that he was in no fear for his life and he did not think that Linaweaver was justified in shooting Bill Street.
   Irick testified that Linaweaver fired the first shot in the incident but after that, the details are hard for him to remember. "After Bill got shot everything just got quiet for me," said Irick, who also testified that he had known the Street family for many years. "I could see Bill in pain and holding his stomach. It just shocked me."
   The jury also voted to fine Linaweaver $10,000 for the offense of voluntary manslaughter and $3,000 for the offense of felony evading arrest.
   Judge Lynn Brown, who presided over the case, stated that he agreed with the jury's verdict. "As the thirteenth juror, I personally agree with your decision and I can sleep at night," he said. "This has been a tragic and difficult case."
   Family members of Bill Street, who was 63 at the time of his death, cried in the courtroom as the jury returned the guilty verdict for voluntary manslaughter. Bill Street was survived by his wife, two daughters, three sons, three sisters, two brothers and nine grandchildren.
   A sentencing hearing for Linaweaver has been set for Jan. 30, 2004.