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Court briefs

WILKES-BARRE – A senior judge appointed to hear a third competency hearing for convicted murderer George Banks has scheduled a date for the hearing.

Senior Judge Charles C. Brown Jr. said in court papers filed Thursday that Bank’s hearing will be on Jan. 19, 2010.

Luzerne County Court President Judge Chester Muroski in October appointed Brown, assigned to the county by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, to preside over the hearing.

Banks was convicted of killing 13 people, including five of his own children, in a shooting rampage in Wilkes-Barre and Jenkins Township in September 1982.

Former Luzerne County Judge Michael Conahan had previously declared Banks was incompetent to be executed, finding that he was too mentally ill to understand that he was facing execution.

The ruling was issued after a several-day hearing in August 2008 at which various psychiatric experts testified. County prosecutors appealed that ruling, and the Supreme Court agreed to allow another hearing.

HAZLE TWP. – A Schuylkill County man accused in a deadly drunken-driving crash waived his right to a preliminary hearing before District Judge Thomas Sharkey on Tuesday.

Jerome Robert Justofin, 45, of Zion Grove, waived to county court charges of homicide by vehicle while under the influence, accidents involving death and two counts of driving under the influence.

State police at Hazleton allege Justofin, driving a Dodge Ram pickup, struck Festus Ampomah, 47, on state Route 924 on Oct. 3, 2008. Ampomah, of Philadelphia, was walking along the highway after his tractor-trailer became disabled, police said.

Police said Ampomah died at the scene.

Justofin admitted to police, according to the criminal complaint, that he consumed alcohol at a bar in Conyngham before the crash. Police said Justofin had a blood-alcohol content of .186 percent.

An adult driver in the state is considered intoxicated with a BAC of .08 percent.

WEST PITTSTON – A man who allegedly stole jewelry from a relative’s residence in October waived his right to a preliminary hearing before District Judge Joseph Carmody on Wednesday.

William Skursky, 31, of West Wyoming, waived charges of burglary, theft and receiving stolen property to county court.

West Wyoming police allege Skursky entered a relative’s house on Gregory Street uninvited and stole jewelry that he sold at a pawn shop in Wilkes-Barre on Oct. 22.

KINGSTON TWP. – Simple assault and harassment charges against Jason Souder, 27, of Lehman Township, were dismissed during a preliminary hearing before District Judge James Tupper on Thursday.

State police at Wyoming had charged Souder with assaulting a woman at his residence on Nov. 2, according to the criminal complaint.

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