Thomas, 32, of Upper St. Clair, is accused of killing Vaughn Simonelli, 55, of Washington, in the Shop ’n Save parking lot Oct. 18, 2012, after a reported confrontation between the two a...s they drove on Jefferson Avenue. Washington police said Thomas shot Simonelli twice, killing him with a shot to the neck.
During the brief opening statements this morning, Thomas’ attorney, Frank Walker, said Simonelli was angry and possibly drunk during the encounter. While he doesn’t disagree with the prosecution that his client shot Simonelli, Walker argues that the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran acted in self-defense.
According to testimony, the incident began at a red light on Jefferson Avenue near the PNC Bank, Subway and Washington High School. First Assistant District Attorney Chad Schneider and witnesses said Thomas was driving his black Hummer erratically, weaving in and out of cars and speeding down the center lane. At one point, Thomas whipped his vehicle in front of Simonelli’s gray sedan