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No wedding for Harrison man accused of killing New Kensington police officer

November 24, 2018

The Harrison man awaiting trial for last year’s murder of a New Kensington police office cannot get married in the future without a judge’s approval.

Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway on Thursday dismissed a petition from prosecutors that sought to bar Rahmael Sol Holt from marrying a witness in the case against him, saying objections to the potential marriage were moot.

In a hearing last month, Holt, 30, told the judge he no longer planned to wed his fiancee, Vanessa Portis, who the prosecution contends is a key witness in the case.

Prosecutors said she drove Holt to various locations to help him avoid arrest after New Kensington police officer Brian Shaw was gunned down following a city traffic stop last Nov. 17.

Portis was not charged.

Prosecutors said they still wanted a judge to rule on the marriage issue, saying Holt could not be believed when he said his proposed wedding was off.

“If the defendant does wish to marry prior to trial, he shall notify his attorneys, who will contact the district attorney’s office,” Hathaway wrote. At that time, the judge said she will rule on any objections raised by prosecutors.

The prosecution previously asked that the judge bar Holt from marrying a witness, saying he was trying to circumvent the law that allows a spouse to refuse to testify against a partner.

Holt’s trial is scheduled to begin in April. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty.

In addition to the marriage issue, Hathaway also ruled that Holt can resume video visits from the jail with friends and family members as he awaits trial.

Prosecutors sought to permanently halt the visits, fearing Holt could get married via video. The judge said the Westmoreland County Register of Wills will not issue a marriage license over a video connection.

“Thus, there is no concern that defendant will marry without the commonwealth’s knowledge,” the judge wrote.

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