AP NEWS

Cresson man waives hearing in double homicide case

January 12, 2019

Joshua Bergmann, charged in the deaths of two men whose remains were found in Conemaugh Township in 2017, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Friday.

The 39-year-old Cresson man joined Samson Washington, 26, and Devon Wyrick, 24, both of Columbus, Ohio, in facing various charges related to the deaths of Damian Staniszewski, 19, of Duncansville, and James Smith, 32, of Portage.

On March 28, 2017, police recovered a 2011 GMC Sierra pickup truck off Somerset Pike in Conemaugh Township while conducting a missing persons investigation. The truck was last used by Staniszewski and Smith, police said.

A hunter found the remains of the two men in a wooded area in Conemaugh Township on Sept. 29, 2017. The preliminary cause of death was gunshot wounds to the head. Smith and Staniszewski also sustained other gunshot wounds and injuries before and after death, according to court documents.

Police said Staniszewski and Smith took a large quantity of narcotics from a “stash house” in Johnstown allegedly run by Washington.

Wyrick and Washington are both charged with two counts each of criminal homicide, aggravated assault, kidnapping, criminal use of a communication facility and unlawful restraint. Bergmann was charged with aggravated assault, criminal use of a communication facility and two counts each of kidnapping and criminal conspiracy.

Jasmine Browning, 24, of Galloway, Ohio, reportedly Washington’s girlfriend at the time of the alleged murders, was arrested and charged in April in connection with the disappearances; however, charges of criminal homicide and criminal conspiracy against her were dropped in December.

Windber District Judge Bill Seger modified Bergmann’s bond from $250,000 secured to $250,000 unsecured at District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser’s request.

Seger set bond conditions. Bergmann must undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation followed by treatment. He is to have no contact with his co-defendants or the victims’ families. He is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 19 in Somerset County court.

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