Stroudsburg attorney faces contempt hearing for court no-show in Spring Brook Twp. homicide case

May 24—SCRANTON — A Stroudsburg attorney faces a contempt hearing after he failed to appear at a pretrial hearing Wednesday for a Scranton man charged with fatally shooting a teenager in Spring Brook Twp. last year.

Attorney Robert Saurman was supposed to appear before Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse to argue a motion that seeks to bar prosecutors from using statements his client, Evan Daniel Wasko, made to state police regarding the death of 17-year-old Joseph Roberson of Thornhurst Twp.

After Saurman was a no-show, Barrasse's law clerk called the attorney's office and was advised he was unaware of the hearing. Saurman said he could be at the courthouse within an hour, but Barrasse opted to postpone the hearing and issue a civil contempt order.

Saurman must appear before Barrasse at 9 a.m. Thursday. The judge will decide whether to issue a sanction, which could include a fine or imprisonment. A new hearing date for the suppression motion has not yet been set.

Reached at his office Wednesday afternoon, Saurman said there was a problem with his office's calendar.

"It was a simple error," he said. "I will explain it to the judge at the hearing."

Wasko, 19, is charged with criminal homicide and several other offenses. State police allege he and three others, including co-defendant Liam Patrick O'Malley, went to a June 18 drinking party at 71 Bowens Road to confront a party-goer. They ended up in a struggle with Roberson and Wasko shot him in the head, state police said.

Wasko was interviewed by state police June 22 and, after initially denying involvement, admitted he shot Roberson, prosecutors said in court papers.

Saurman recently filed a motion to suppress the statement, arguing a state trooper violated Wasko's Miranda rights against self-incrimination when he continued to question him after Wasko initially asked for an attorney.

In reply to the motion, District Attorney Mark Powell said the questioning was legal.

Powell said a video of the hearing shows the trooper stopped the questioning and exited the room after Wasko asked for an attorney. Wasko later held a note he wrote, using a pen and paper police left for him, up to the interview room's window, advising police he wanted to talk. A trooper then reread him his Miranda rights. He agreed to speak and made incriminating statements.

"Viewing the totality of the circumstances, Wasko made a knowing, voluntary and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights," Powell said.

Barrasse will reschedule a hearing on the motion and issue a ruling at a later date. Wasko remains jailed in Lackawanna County Prison without bail pending trial.

O'Malley, 19, of Scranton, also remains jailed in the county jail on $500,000 bail while he awaits trial on firearms counts, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person and tampering with evidence.

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