Murder charge upheld in Arnold shooting case

Rich Cholodofsky, Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.
·2 min read

Feb. 23—A Westmoreland County judge rejected a defense request to dismiss second-degree murder and robbery charges against a Butler woman implicated in the 2019 shooting death of an Armstrong County man in Arnold.

Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Feliciani ruled prosecutors have presented enough evidence to allow the murder case against Bailey Ann Hines to proceed to trial.

"The commonwealth presented sufficient evidence at this stage of the proceeding to conclude that the defendant acted as a conspirator to commit the robbery and as an accomplice to the robbery, and the victim died as a result of the bodily injuries he sustained during robbery," the judge wrote in a six-page order.

Hines, 26, was charged along with two others in connection with the June 28, 2019, fatal shooting of Gregory Ray Wynkoop, 35, in an Arnold alley in what police say was a scheme to steal his money during a staged drug deal.

Wynkoop, of East Franklin, was shot once. Police contend Hines, along with Allen Duwayne Herring, 33, of Braddock and his girlfriend, Santyna Marie Bennett, 26, of Arnold, plotted to rob Wynkoop.

According to court records, police said Wynkoop was shot as he attempted to buy illicit drugs from Herring, who posed as a drug dealer as part of the scheme. Investigators contend Hines and Bennett helped plan and execute the robbery.

Hines told police Wynkoop was shot when a gun discharged as both men fought during the robbery. Hines is accused of taking $300 from the dead man's wallet, according to court records.

Hines' defense attorney Emily Smarto argued that evidentiary issues prevent prosecutors from establishing that a crime was committed. The defense claimed Hines' statement to police about her involvement with Herring and Bennett was hearsay and not be considered as evidence.

The judge ruled that independent evidence that a crime occurred corroborated Hines' admissions and confession made to investigators.

No trial date for Hines' case has been set.

Herring, who is charged with both first and second-degree murder, robbery and related offenses, is scheduled for trial in March. Bennett, charged with criminal homicide and robbery, was scheduled for trial this week but the case was postponed. A new date for the trial has not been scheduled.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, rcholodofsky@triblive.com or via Twitter .