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Wilkinsburg Mass Shooting Suspect Robert Thomas Out Of Jail After Having Case Dismissed

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- One of two suspects accused in the 2016 deadly mass shooting at a backyard barbecue in Wilkinsburg is out of the Allegheny County Jail today after nearly four years.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Edward Borkowski on Monday granted a defense motion to dismiss the case against 31-year-old Robert Thomas in the March 2016 shooting.

He walked out of the Allegheny County Jail around 10 a.m. wearing a suit and tie and glasses, and carrying a bag over his shoulder. His family was there to pick him up.

They did not speak to the media.

The defense sought dismissal after prosecutors decided against putting a key witness on the stand. That witness allegedly confessed to the killing of a 15-month-old boy during a drive-by shooting at a separate picnic in the East Hills in 2013.

Meanwhile, the trial continues today against the other suspect, 33-year-old Cheron Shelton.

The day started off with more testimony as court reconvened Tuesday morning.

WATCH LIVE: KDKA's Amy Wadas Reports Live From The Courthouse

The first witness of the day was Allegheny County Police Sgt. Todd Dolfi, who described the shooting as an "unusual crime scene" and the "most extensive crime scene he's been on in his career." During cross-examination, defense attorney Randall McKinney reinforced that saliva tested that was found in the backyard was not Cheron Shelton's. The detective agreed.

The second witness to take the stand was a scientist with Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.

The man, who investigators say was the intended target of the shooting, also took the stand Tuesday. Lamont Powell, 28, was wounded multiple times during the gunfire at the barbecue. He is currently on probation for a simple assault for an incident that happened before the mass shooting.

Powell's testimony took less than 15 minutes. While on the stand, he said a lot of "I don't knows" and "I don't remembers."

Powell told the prosecution he didn't want to be in court and said he was uncooperative with investigators.

Powell lost three siblings that day in the shooting: his sisters Britanny and Chanetta Powell and his brother Jerry Shelton.

Lamont Powell said he was shot multiple times and needed five surgeries.

Investigators say the shooting was in retaliation for the death of Cheron Shelton's friend Calvin Doswell. Lamont Powell says he didn't murder Doswell.

The jury is also seeing crime scene photos.

Two other witnesses took the stand, including Lamont Powell's uncle and the woman who lives in the home where the shooting happened, Julie Knapp.

Knapp wasn't home when the shooting happened, but she was very emotional, saying she and Brittany Powell became friends.

WATCH: KDKA's Amy Wadas Reports Live On Day 2 On The Trial

Brittany Powell moved into the home with her daughter and told Knapp the day of the shooting that she "felt safe here, I can raise my child here."

Prosecutors say they plan to seek capital punishment in the event of a first-degree murder conviction.


Shelton is charged in the killing of five adults and an unborn child at the cookout on Franklin Avenue in 2016. The shooting injured three others, including a John Ellis, who is paralyzed.

Ellis sat on the stand in his wheelchair on Tuesday, telling the jury he will never be able to walk again.

He said he went over to the cookout on Franklin Avenue in Wilkinsburg that night in March 2016.

He said everyone was having a good time when he said he heard a popping noise.

"I said to myself, did I get shot? The third one I felt. It sounded like the Fourth of July," Ellis said in court.

Ellis ran to his house and didn't recall seeing anyone firing shots.

On Monday, the commonwealth said Shelton fired 30 bullets during the incident. They said it was a "brazen, vengeful, callous act."

But defense attorney Randall McKinney said Shelton "played no role in what happened that night."

Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.

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