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Editorial: Accused New Kensington cop killer’s marriage request should not get in the way of the facts

August 2, 2018

Accused cop killer Rahmael Holt wants to do more than just be in contact with a key witness against him.

He wants to marry one.

We agree with Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck that Holt should not be allowed to exchange vows with girlfriend Vanessa Portis while awaiting trial on charges he shot and killed New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw in November. A judge will decide on Holt’s marriage request in August.

Portis has already testified in court that she drove Holt to different locations after the shooting, and she was identified as the owner of a cellphone found at the murder scene. Police believe Holt dropped the phone as he ran away.

Holt’s attorney Tim Dawson claims his client is in love.

“Love is a many splendored thing. Who is the district attorney to step in, and why are they trying to stop this? I believe this is true love,” Dawson said.

State and federal courts have differed on how to treat a spouse’s testimony. While Peck argued that a marriage should not prevent Portis from testifying about events before she married Holt, the district attorney said any communication between Holt and Portis after exchanging vows could be barred from evidence.

We need all the facts to be out in the open in the case. That includes communication between a key witness for the prosecution and the defendant.

If Holt and Portis are truly in love, then marriage can wait.