Prosecution can't say why gun failed to fire in Upper Burrell attempted homicide case

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

May 4—An attempted homicide charge against an Upper Burrell man who police said pulled the trigger of a gun with the intent to kill a woman last year likely will be dismissed because prosecutors cannot explain why the weapon failed to fire.

Matthew Best, 32, was charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, loitering, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief following an Oct. 23 incident.

Police said an AR-15 malfunctioned after Best pointed the weapon at a woman and pulled the trigger during a violent confrontation.

During a pretrial conference on Monday, Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Ranger said tests on the weapon found that it was operational.

"We don't have an explanation for why it didn't go off," Ranger said.

As a result, Ranger said the most violent offense against Best, the attempted homicide charge, could be dismissed.

Defense attorney Julia Gitelman said efforts are ongoing to craft a guilty plea that will enable Best, who is in jail without bond, to enroll in a state drug court program.

Gitelman said Best was addicted to methamphetamine, commonly referred to as "meth," which caused him to have a paranoid reaction at the time of the incident.

According to court records, Upper Burrell police said they found Best's accuser crawling on Route 780 near Menk Road and that she claimed Best attempted to kill her during a confrontation.

Police said that when they arrived at the police station with the woman, they found Best in the driver's seat of a township public works vehicle. A mailbox had been pulled from the wall.

Westmoreland County Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio delayed the case two months to continue to exchange information and negotiate a potential plea bargain.

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