CLARION, Pa. (EYT) — Jury selection is under way for a Clarion man accused of killing a Curwensville woman in March of 2017.
The trial for 23-year-old Damien L. Ditz began with jury selection today at 9 a.m. at the Clarion County Courthouse and will be followed by a jury trial that starts Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Ditz is accused of fatally shooting 22-year-old Clarion University student Katrina Renee Seaburn on March 1, 2017, in Washington Township, Clarion County. The two were in an on-again, off-again relationship at the time of Seaburn’s death.
He was charged with the following offenses on June 20, 2017, after a joint investigation between Marienville-based state police and the Clarion County District Attorney’s Office:
– Criminal Homicide, Felony 1
– Aggravated Assault, Felony 1
– Aggravated Assault, Felony 2
– Simple Assault, Misdemeanor 2 (two counts)
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2
The charge of general criminal homicide encompasses murder of the first-, second- and third-degrees, as well as voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, according to the Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron.
Ditz is being held in the Clarion County Jail without bail. Under Pennsylvania Law, bail is not set in a case where first-degree murder is charged, as life in prison is a possible punishment.
The case is being tried by Aaron. Ditz is represented by Pittsburgh-based Adam Michael Bishop. Clarion County President Judge James G. Arner will preside over the trial.
Details of the Shooting
According to the criminal complaint filed by Marienville-based state police Trooper Shawn Nicewonger, police were dispatched to 1110 Lake Lucy Rd., around 5:43 p.m., on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, for a report of a shooting.
Nicewonger was called to the scene along with various other state police personnel, including Corporal Milliard, Sergeant Bettwy and Troopers Watters and Freeman.
While en route to the parking area of Hartzell Trailer Court, it was reported that a female, later identified as Katrina Seaburn, had died after being shot in the chest.
The criminal complaint states that Seaburn suffered a gunshot wound to the chest while seated in the front passenger’s side of her Suzuki SX4.
The victim’s boyfriend, identified as Damien Ditz, was in the driver’s seat when the gun was discharged.
Clarion County Coroner Terry Shaffer was dispatched around 6:15 p.m. and pronounced Seaburn dead at the scene. Autopsy results confirmed that Seaburn died as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Ditz Interviewed at PSP Marienville
Ditz was interviewed on March 1, 2017, around 9 p.m. by Troopers Nicewonger and Watters.
During the interview, Ditz told police that he was driving Seaburn’s vehicle and making a left turn into Hartzell Trailer Court when a Glock 37 handgun slid off the dash and impacted the center console, causing it to discharge and strike the victim in the chest.
Ditz claimed that he placed the loaded gun on the dash the previous night, according to the criminal complaint.
The criminal complaint states that Ditz then altered his story, stating that when the firearm slid off the dash, he caught it. According to Ditz, the firearm then discharged as he attempted to place it in the back seat of the vehicle.
Police: Ditz Admits to Shooting Seaburn
Following a three-month-long investigation into the shooting, Ditz was asked to submit to a polygraph examination and an additional interview.
“This was requested to clarify details about the shooting as discrepancies were discovered in his account of the incident,” said Nicewonger in the criminal complaint.
Police say Ditz admitted his previous statements were false during a polygraph examination conducted by Troopers Higgins and Mallory at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 20, 2017.
Ditz explained that he and the victim were arguing about money as he was driving into the parking area of the trailer court.
According to the criminal complaint, Ditz told investigators that he was angry at the victim and “lost his temper.”
The criminal complaint states that Ditz disclosed to police that he pointed the gun at Seaburn, knowing that it was loaded, and it discharged.
Ditz then told police that he didn’t intentionally pull the trigger, according to the criminal complaint.
However, a release issued by Aaron indicated that investigators believe Ditz’s acts were, in fact, intentional.
“It is alleged that the evidence in the case indicates that Ditz intentionally killed Seaburn,” Aaron said.
Seaburn was a Clarion University student originally from the Curwensville area.
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