Bar murder trial begins

Joshua Stewart

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The murder trial of a man who prosecutors believe gunned down a 58-year-old man outside his Farrell bar, ending a months long crime spree that included at least six other armed robberies, began on Monday.

Joshua Stewart, 20, of Farrell, is facing charges of first- and second-degree murder charges and two counts of robbery and conspiracy in Mercer County Court.

Another man, Devine Campbell, is facing the same charges and is accused of conspiring with Stewart in the murder and other armed robberies in Sharon and Farrell. He will be tried separately.

The two are accused of approaching William Basilone Jr. Dec. 30, 2011 and fatally shooting him five times during a robbery attempt. He was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center, where was pronounced dead.

Investigators said the two were suspected in nine armed robberies around businesses and in neighborhoods between September 2011 and the Basilone shooting. Stewart is facing charges for seven armed robberies and Campbell with six.

In one case a market across the street from the Southwest Regional Police Department was robbed at gunpoint twice. In another, the duo is charged with robbing a 61-year-old man at gunpoint while he left his Sharon home.

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