Judge: Hall Will Stand Trial In Murder Of Friend’s Grandfather
WILKES-BARRE — A 16-year-old girl accused of conspiring to murder her friend’s grandfather will stand trial on murder charges, a county judge ruled Tuesday. Luzerne County Judge William H. Amesbury found sufficient evidence to bind over charges of murder conspiracy, theft and robbery against Mercedes Linn Hall, of Kingston. The case now moves to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas for trial. Hall is accused of conspiring to murder 71-year-old Joseph Monka at his Edwardsville home April 15. Monka’s granddaughter, 17-year-old Gabriella Long, is accused of luring him to an upstairs bedroom so her boyfriend, Christopher Cortez, 19, of Wilkes-Barre, and her friend, Devin Malik Cunningham, 20, of Wilkes-Barre, could ambush Monka in a robbery for his cash and car. During a preliminary hearing in June, Magisterial District Judge James J. Haggerty approved murder charges on Long, Cortez and Cunningham, but found there was insufficient evidence that Hall was involved in the crime, rather than merely being present when it occurred. Immediately after the dismissal, county prosecutors re-filed the case against Hall and petitioned for another judge, arguing Haggerty has shown an anti-prosecution bias in murder cases. Luzerne County President Judge Richard M. Hughes III subsequently granted the prosecution request for a change of venue, finding that Haggerty’s actions created the appearance of bias. Last week, Assistant District Attorney Jarrett J. Ferentino stood by the case against Hall and submitted the transcript from the first proceeding. Amesbury took the matter under advisement issued his ruling after the parties submitted briefs containing their legal arguments. On Wednesday, he noted that people can view the same set of evidence differently. “I see this differently than the magisterial district judge,” Amesbury said.