CLEARFIELD – A twice-convicted killer Andrew Callahan, 29, formerly of Coalport, saw his third trial get off to a slow start, as it was delayed nearly a half-hour Monday before President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman in Clearfield County Court.
Ammerman explained that they experienced the delay while two jurors were excused from hearing the case. He said they were forced to move alternates into the vacated spots. He also noted that they had to discuss “legal issues,” which could not be heard by the jury.
Callahan faces charges that stem from the Nov. 5, 1997 murder of then 15-year-old classmate Micah James Pollock in the Pine Run area of Beccaria Township, Clearfield County. More specifically, he has been charged with criminal homicide, including murder of both the first and third degrees and involuntary manslaughter. He has also been charged with aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse.
In his opening statements, District Attorney William A. Shaw, Jr. said they would present testimony and evidence, proving that Callahan, then age 16, was responsible for the shooting death of Pollock and then dragging and disposing of the victim’s body.
“We plan to prove the defendant’s guilt,” Shaw said. He told jurors that the trial was about an “intentional killing” because Callahan had become jealous of Pollock following a break-up with his girlfriend. He said that the defendant’s jealousy evolved into his premeditated plans to kill Pollock.
Shaw said they would also hear testimony that puts Callahan and Pollock together on the day in question. He said they were supposed to later make plans with a group of friends at a former basketball court that was commonly used as a meeting place.
“But who didn’t show up?” Shaw asked, adding that Pollock wasn’t among the group of friends. He said Callahan was questioned by the group about the whereabouts of the victim to which he claimed to have dropped Pollock off at home.
“When in all reality, he shot and killed him,” Shaw said. He then described how Callahan pulled his shotgun to his shoulder and fired the “perfect shot” to the center of Pollock’s back.
Defense attorney Ron Valasek said Callahan and Pollock were together Nov. 5, 1997. The two went “riding” to hunt for game and to kill time while waiting to meet friends for a party. He said a grouse flew out, and both exited the vehicle.
He said Callahan missed the grouse; both found it humorous. He said they found it especially amusing, as both were heavily intoxicated by drugs. He said Callahan decided to “get even” with Pollock and pointed his shotgun at him.
Valasek said Callahan thought it’d be funny for Pollock to hear the “clicking” sound, when he pulled the trigger of his shotgun. He noted the defendant believed that he had used the only shot on the grouse.
“But it wasn’t a click. It was a shot. He killed him. I’m telling you he killed him,” he said. “. . . You’ll hear the horrific testimony of what Andy did after the murder.
“You can’t look at it in the eyes of a 29-year-old. You have to look at it in the eyes of a 16-year-old. There’s no question that Andy shot him. There’s no doubt. The question is, was it accidental like Andy says it is.”
Callahan’s former girlfriend Kaylee Peacock McClellan, 27, of Irvona was the first witness to take the stand. Prior to Nov. 5, 1997, she said she had dated the defendant for slightly more than a year. She ended the relationship just weeks before the murder.
“I couldn’t take our relationship. He was obsessive, jealous,” she told the jury. She said he called her constantly and followed her even after her requests for him to stop.
McClellan continued, “He was wherever I was. He said, ‘if he couldn’t have me, no one could.’” She testified to spending time with Pollock, and said they had the weekend prior to the murder.
On Nov. 3, 1997 when Callahan found out the two had hung out, she said he commented that he was going to kill Pollock. Under cross-examination, she admitted that she didn’t report the defendant’s threats to any school or law enforcement official.
“And, I regret that, sir,” she said in between sobs.
McClellan said she and friends were meeting at the basketball courts to make party arrangements for Nov. 5, 1997 while they didn’t have school the next day. She went to the home of friend Rochelle Cossick, now 29, of Houtzdale before they went to the courts.
Christopher McClellan, 30, of Irvona said he and friends dropped Pollock off at home around 3:15 p.m. on the day in question. He later received a call from Pollock about plans for later on. While the two were on the phone, Pollock related the defendant was there to pick him up.
Shawn Warsek, 30, of Glasglow said he was at a local pizza and grocery store, when he observed Callahan pass by in a Ford Bronco at roughly 4:30 p.m. Nov. 5, 1997. Pollock was also a passenger in the vehicle, and they were headed toward the Pine Run area.
He said they had plans to meet at the former basketball courts, which he believed was seven to eight miles from Pine Run. He said the defendant pulled in after 5 p.m. in a Chevrolet Cavalier. He said he went with Callahan and others to the ball fiend.
(Christopher) McClellan said Pollock never arrived at the basketball courts. He said Callahan indicated he had dropped the victim off at his home. He said they stopped at the home of Pollock on their way to the ball field. But they didn’t get an answer.
(Kaylee) McClellan said she and Cossick first went to the former basketball courts. However, no one was there. During her testimony, Cossick indicated they arrived there around 5 – 5:15 p.m. and waited for about an hour before heading to the ball field.
At first, (Kaylee) McClellan said, no one was at the ball field, when they arrived. But she said Callahan arrived with some friends sometime around 7 – 8 p.m.
She said the defendant appeared to be “perfectly fine” other than being angry. She explained that she was unsure how to explain his glare toward her. Later that evening, she was among a group of friends who went riding around to look for Pollock.
According to her, Callahan indicated he dropped Pollock off at home after they had gone riding. She said she didn’t see or hear from the victim following school on the day in question. On the morning of Nov. 6, 1997, she made repeated calls to the victim’s residence.
Because Pollock was still missing, she, Warsek, Cossick and Chris McClellan went to the trailer of Seth and James (also known as Dean) Pennington, where Callahan was known to hang out. At their arrival, Callahan was leaving the residence and running toward his vehicle.
(Kaylee) McClellan said they questioned the defendant again about the whereabouts of Pollock. She said the defendant related that he didn’t do anything to him and took him home. After he left the trailer, she said they went inside to make a call that would go unanswered to the home of Pollock.
Still without any answers, she said they went to Callahan’s residence to question him further. When she asked Callahan again, he replied with the same response. She pointed out that he wasn’t dressed in his ordinary clothes that he’d wear out of the house.
Stephanie Miller, 26, former Glendale Junior-Senior High School student, testified that Callahan made an unusual statement about Pollock prior to the alleged murder. She overheard the defendant tell Pollock “if you don’t stay away from Kaylee, I’ll kill you.”
She said Callahan, Pollock and (Kaylee) McClellan were at the bottom of the stairway at the school during the argument. She said Callahan and Pollock were arguing during a class change.
“I heard what he said loud and clear,” Miller told the defense counsel under cross-examination. She didn’t report the argument to anyone, assuming it’d only result in a scuffle. She later told friends whom informed the police.
Several other witnesses said they, too, heard Callahan comment about killing Pollock.
Former Glendale student Jennifer Queen Ruffner, 30, said she called the trailer of Seth and Dean Pennington on Nov. 6, 1997. She said she spoke with her cousin, Phil Smeal but also heard Callahan’s voice in the background.
“He said, ‘I (explanative) killed him and buried him. Do you have an (explanative) problem with that,’” she said in tears, recalling the defendant’s statement.
Smeal, 31, said he was at the Pennington’s trailer on the evening of Nov. 5, 1997. He said Callahan arrived around 6 – 6:30 p.m. The next day while there, he received a call from Ruffner about the whereabouts of Pollock.
Smeal testified he didn’t hear the defendant make the comment that Ruffner had previously alleged. However, he referenced another comment made by the defendant.
According to him, Callahan pointed out a lyric in a hip-hop song that was being played from a CD. He said the song lyrics were about “AC being down with OJ.”
He also spoke to police about the investigation of Pollock, whom was missing. He said the defendant asked him about it and to change his statement.
Smeal said he related to police that Callahan arrived at the Pennington’s trailer around 6 – 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5, 1997. He said Callahan told him if he spoke to police again, he should tell him it was 5 – 5:30 p.m.
Both Dean, 33, and Seth, 32, Pennington shared similar testimony. They said Callahan arrived at their trailer around 6 – 6:30 p.m. on the night in question. They said Callahan returned the morning of Nov. 6, 1997.
Both said Ruffner called and spoke to Smeal about the victim. They both confirmed the testimony of Ruffner, stating that Callahan commented about killing Pollock.
They pointed out the defendant’s reference to a hip-hop lyric, which they were told to pay close attention to. Both confirmed the lyric, which was previously given in testimony by Smeal.
Also like Smeal, they said Callahan asked them to alter their statements to police. They said the defendant asked them to lie about his arrival time at their trailer on Nov. 5, 1997. They told police that he came around 6 – 6:30; Callahan wanted them to tell police that it was 5 – 5:30 p.m.
Linda Kutruff, formerly of the Dollar General store in Irvona, said Callahan came into the store and purchased a garbage can Nov. 6, 1997. Callahan arrived at the store between the hours of 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.
She said he had forgotten his wallet and didn’t have the money to make the purchase. But he returned a short time later and did so.
Testimony was also heard from a pair of retired troopers from the Pennsylvania State Police who were involved with the investigation.
Trooper Lawrence Malesky was assigned to investigate a missing person report from the night prior Nov. 6, 1997. He interviewed Callahan at his home in the presence of his parents.
Callahan told him he was with Pollock the night before and picked him up around 3:30 p.m. He related that they rode around before he dropped off the victim at his home around 4:15 p.m.
Malesky also said the defendant related he went hunting for grouse behind his house at 4:15 p.m. He said it wasn’t mentioned whether or not Pollock had gone hunting with him.
Malesky said Callahan never told him he shot and killed Pollock. In addition, he said he never mentioned an accident while hunting on the day in question.
Cpl. Richard Crain, also formerly of the Pennsylvania State Police, said he was working as a criminal investigator on Nov. 9 and assisting with the Pollock investigation.
He indicated a search team had discovered a garbage can in the Pine Run area. He said at the scene, he observed a plastic garbage can, which was new.
He said he also observed “fresh breaks” to pine tree branches in the area, testifying it appeared as though someone had made an attempt to conceal something.
“It caught our attention real quick,” Crain said. He said they discovered a box with tree branches in the area of the garbage can. He pointed to fresh breaks to tree branches on a number of exhibits.
Crain said they observed water and mud marks inside the garbage can. He said it appeared that something had been slide into or out of the garbage can.
According to prior GantDaily reports, Callahan was twice-convicted for the shooting death of Pollock. He was found guilty of first-degree murder in October 1998.
However, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the initial conviction while a jury question was not answered properly. Callahan stood trial a second time and was found guilty of first-degree murder again in May 2007.
But in December 2008, the state’s Superior Court vacated Callahan’s re-sentence to life in prison. He was ordered a third trial as the jury wasn’t given the correct instructions during the re-trial.
The re-trial continues Tuesday morning. Check back with on GantDaily later in the evening for coverage of the day’s testimony.