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Somerset County Double Homicide Trial

The trial for three men charged in a 2017 double homicide began Monday in Somerset County, following a lengthy jury selection last week.

In total, four men are charged in the deaths of Damian Staniszewski and James Smith, whose bodies were found dumped along Ligonier Pike.

The men are accused of conspiring to kidnap and murder the victims after investigators say Staniszewski and Smith allegedly broke into a drug house in Johnstown.

Jurors began hearing arguments Monday about how prosecutors believe the three men kidnapped, tortured, and ultimately shot and killed the two other men whom they accused of stealing drugs and money from a stash house in Johnstown.

Marekus Benson, DeAndre Callender and Samson Washington all face homicide and other related charges.

Prosecutors say they believed that Damian Staniszewski and James Smith had stolen drugs and money from a Johnstown stash house that belonged to an Ohio-based gang.

Police say their bodies were founds months after they went missing along Ligonier Pike in Conemaugh Township, Somerset Country.

A fourth man charged in this case, Devon Wyrick, was originally supposed to be a part of this trial but he is now going to be a prosecution witness against the other three.

A majority of Monday’s testimony was about the crime scene where the two bodies were found with evidence of multiple gunshot wounds.

Defense attorneys argued that the evidence you don’t see in this case is as important as the evidence you do and said some of the witnesses who have made deals with prosecutors, will have “unbelievable narratives to tell.”

The trial is expected to run through next week.

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