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Man faces trial over fatal W-B shooting in June

Brandon Scott Dennison is accused of killing a woman after fight with her boyfriend.

Brandon Scott Dennison is taken to his preliminary hearing Wednesday at District Judge William Amesbury’s office at Penn Place.

Times leader staff photo/pete g. wilcox

WILKES-BARRE -- Enrique Santana testified he confronted Brandon Scott Dennison because he wanted Dennison to leave his family alone.

But Dennison punched Santana in the face, Santana said during a preliminary hearing Wednesday. Santana said he countered by hitting Dennison in the head with a glass beer bottle.

As the two men fought for a few minutes in the rear of 290 Carey Ave. in Wilkes-Barre early on the morning of June 8, Dennison, 20, allegedly pulled out a gun and shot Santana, 25, in the leg.

Santana testified he ran to the front of the home and jumped into a Dodge Neon driven by his girlfriend, Amanda Kates.

Dennison followed and fired at least six or seven shots at the car. Santana then saw Kates, 21, slump over the steering wheel before he ran away, jumping over fences and hiding in a shed for two hours.

Those were among the statements Santana made Wednesday during the hearing for Dennison on homicide charges. After more than two hours of testimony, District Judge William Amesbury ruled there is enough evidence for Dennison to stand trial on charges of criminal homicide and criminal attempt to commit homicide.

Prior to the hearing, Luzerne County Assistant District Attorneys William Finnegan and Jenny Roberts withdrew two counts of aggravated assault against Dennison for shooting Santana in the leg. A single count of simple assault against Santana for hitting Dennison in the head with a bottle was also withdrawn.

Testimony by Santana and Wilkes-Barre police Detective Joseph Bitzer offered some insight into what happened at the home but failed to answer a question that has lingered since the day of the shooting: How did Dennison suffer a gunshot wound to the leg?

Santana denied he had a gun while the two men fought and suggested Dennison shot himself.

Dennison’s lawyer, John Pike, said afterwards that he has no idea how Dennison got shot.

Santana said he went with Kates to the Carey Avenue home at about 3 a.m. to pick up Kates’ 18-year-old brother, Ryan. When they arrived, about 10 to 15 people were inside having a party.

Santana said he and Kates, parents of two young children, were ready to leave when Ryan Kates wanted to stay longer. As they were leaving, Santana said, someone told him Dennison was in the rear yard.

Santana testified he told Amanda Kates to get the car and confronted Dennison in the yard.

Santana said he didn’t know he was shot during the confrontation until he jumped into the passenger seat of Kates’ car.

On cross-examination by Pike, Santana admitted he was looking straight ahead when he heard a series of shots coming from the rear of the car. Santana said he turned his head slightly to see who was shooting when the car sped through a parking lot before crashing into shrubs.

Santana said he saw Kates “slump over the steering wheel” but didn’t know she was shot. Believing Dennison was gunning for him, Santana said he ran.

Only after calling Kates’ mother, Eileen Duncan, did Santana find out that Kates had been killed.

Amesbury denied Pike’s request to set bail for Dennison, who remains jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.

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