DA White Says More Time Needed in Spencer Homicide Investigation

Aly Delp

Aly Delp

Published January 26, 2022 5:50 am
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VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) — According to Venango County District Attorney Shawn White, more time is needed to complete the investigation of the shooting death of Peter Spencer.

While Peter Spencer’s homicide remains under investigation, a statement issued on Tuesday by the Office of Venango County District Attorney Shawn White indicates that officials expect “completion and submission of all reports related to this investigation” within four to six weeks.

Once the DA has received all the reports, he will review all the available information to make a charging decision, according to the statement.

The statement notes that the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct “prohibit a prosecutor’s public communication regarding an ongoing investigation out of concern for the impact it may have on the case and any potential charges. Further, disclosure of information may hinder or interfere with the investigation moving forward.”

Shooting Reported on Sunday, December 12, 2021

The investigation began when troopers were dispatched to 279 Carls Road, in Rockland Township, Venango County, around 2:26 a.m. on Sunday, December 12, for a report of a shooting.

Upon arrival at the scene, the victim – 29-year-old Peter Bernardo Spencer, who was a Jamaican immigrant living in Allegheny County – was found dead in the front yard of the residence, due to multiple gunshot wounds to his body.

Police say a known 25-year-old male suspect and three other individuals were detained and questioned at the Franklin State Police barracks.

All four individuals were released after consultation with the Venango County District Attorney Shawn White, pending further investigation.

According to police, multiple firearms, ballistic evidence, controlled substances, and other items were seized from the scene.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported William Anderson, chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Black Caucus, and Spencer’s family have stated that a former coworker who had invited Spencer to Venango County admitted to being the shooter and was claiming self-defense.

Rockland Township homicide

An autopsy was completed on December 14.

Officials say autopsy results from a forensic pathologist are pending.

According to a release from the Pennsylvania State Police issued earlier this month, a joint news conference, with Pennsylvania State Police and the Venango County District Attorney, will be held after the investigation has been completed and a decision regarding appropriate charges has been made.

However, a release from Paul Jubas, a civil rights attorney from Pittsburgh who is advising the victim’s family, indicates “serious concerns as the propriety of the investigation have surfaced.”

The release from Jubas notes there have been conflicting statements regarding the number of shots to the victim’s back and said the family also has concerns about the “complete lack of transparency” of the investigation.

The family is reportedly demanding all photos and other pertinent information be turned over to their medical examiner, Dr. Cyril Wecht.

Additionally, the family is demanding the FBI and Department of Justice get involved in the case, and that the Venango County District Attorney refer the case to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro “to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”

Venango County District Attorney White addressed this concern in his statement issued on Tuesday:

“This office also takes seriously any possibility that a crime may be fueled by hatred toward a person because of their race, color, religion, or national origin. Rest assured, the Venango County District Attorney’s Office will take every measure to ensure that justice is sought wherever it may be found.”

The case, which is being classified as a homicide, is being investigated by the Troop E Major Case Team.

Pennsylvania State Police’s Western Heritage Affairs Liaison Officer Corporal Aaron Allen is overseeing the investigation into Spencer’s death and said it is not being looked at as a hate crime. He explained his job is to mediate tensions stemming from incidents like this and that he has been in contact with Spencer’s family.

According to Allen, people should have trust the investigation will be conducted thoroughly and with due diligence.

“There are levels to this process, and there are systems put in place to make sure the proper things are being done in any investigation, not just this one.”

Several GoFundMe campaigns were set up following Spencer’s death, including one set up by his pregnant fiancee, Carmela King.

Peter Bernardo Spencer.

Peter Bernardo Spencer.

While Spencer’s family hasn’t spoken much with American media, they have opened up to media in Jamaica.

“We have been told that there was an altercation and the people who shot him were in fear for their lives, but this makes no sense as he was with four other white men when he was shot and killed,” family members stated in an interview with The Gleaner, a well-known Jamaican newspaper.

Family members went on to describe Spencer as a helpful man, who was “not perfect,” but liked to help others find success.

Dr. Karren Dunkley, Jamaica’s Global Diaspora Council member for the US Northeastern Region, has also gotten involved, reportedly meeting with representatives of the attorney general’s office in Philadelphia to discuss Spencer’s death and “what many perceive as a lack of action in getting justice for his family.”

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