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This Hour: Latest Pennsylvania news, sports, business and entertainment

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Gag issued before trial of man shot by police

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jury selection is set to begin today in the trial for a Pittsburgh man charged with dragging an officer with his vehicle before the suspect was shot and paralyzed.

An Allegheny County judge yesterday issued a gag order in the case after learning the suspect, 21-year-old Leon Ford, participated in a rally with supporters that blocked traffic briefly in Pittsburgh Tuesday night. Three people were arrested.

Ford is facing trial on aggravated assault and other charges stemming from the November 2012 traffic stop.

Ford has a lawsuit pending in federal court, saying an internal police board determined the officers contributed to the shooting by not following proper procedures during the stop.

His attorney unsuccessfully tried to have the criminal charges dismissed last month.


Man convicted of 1st-degree murder in Pa. slaying

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A western Pennsylvania man faces life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of another man outside a Pittsburgh bar last fall.

An Allegheny County jury convicted 37-year-old Wilbert Johnson on Wednesday in the Sept. 22 death of 36-year-old Qaeed Braxton.

Authorities said Braxton was shot as he left a bar in the Homestead section of Pittsburgh following an argument in the bar.

Prosecutors said a man with the victim had begun dating the defendant's ex-girlfriend, and after the argument Johnston followed the group outside, retrieved a gun from his vehicle and fired.

Defense attorney Anne Marie Mancuso argued that her client fired in self-defense, but prosecutors said the victim was shot in the middle of the back and also cited the defendant's changing stories.


2 charged in Philly collapse want mayor as witness

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Two contractors charged in a fatal Philadelphia building collapse have a lengthy witness list that includes Mayor Michael Nutter.

Demolition contractor Griffin Campbell and subcontractor Sean Benschop are charged with third-degree murder in the deaths of six people inside a thrift store.

Prosecutors say they were recklessly knocking down an adjacent building when a towering brick wall fell on the store in June 2013.

Defense lawyers have called their clients scapegoats.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the witness list they submitted Wednesday includes city officials with oversight or knowledge of the demolition project.

A mayoral spokesman says the administration has not seen the list and has no comment.

The 50-year-old Campbell and 43-year-old Benschop are in custody and want an early trial, but the trial date remains unclear.


After 24 years, man to be freed in Pa. arson case

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An elderly man who has spent 24 years in prison for his daughter's fire-related death is set to be released, weeks after his Pennsylvania conviction was overturned.

Lawyers say Han Tak Lee will be released tomorrow on bail while prosecutors decide whether to appeal this month's ruling.

Lee has been serving life-without-parole in his mentally ill daughter's death at a Pocono Mountains religious retreat in 1989.

Lee, a former New York City store owner, calls the fire accidental. A U.S. appeals court ordered a review that found much of the "arson science" used at trial is now considered flawed.

Pennsylvania Innocence Project lawyers say Lee will reunite with surviving relatives.

Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine Jr. believes the verdict was correct, and has said he's likely to appeal.


Pa. hopes to put out underground fire near airport

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pennsylvania officials hope to extinguish an underground coal waste fire burning near Pittsburgh International Airport.

The fire has been burning for several years and sits less than a quarter mile from a runway.

The state Department of Environmental Protection says the fire has the potential to threaten visibility for air traffic, and poses a risk to an airport radar facility and an underground gas pipeline.

The $1.4 million project is expected to start next month and take about a year, and involve firefighting foam and millions of gallons of water.

Workers will also remove more than 400,000 cubic yards of coal waste from the underground pile. The pile dates to the early 20th century.

Project funding comes from coal industry fees paid into the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Trust Fund.

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