Attempted homicide charge heads to court

After being struck from behind by a car, Chaz Turner got up on his feet and suddenly saw a gun that was aimed at him from the passenger window of the vehicle.

“It was pointed at my head. I heard a shot and then I took off running,” Turner testified Monday at the preliminary hearing of Norman Dennis, one of two men state police said allegedly tried to kill him on Robbins Road, a remote road in Loyalsock Township off of Warrensville Road, just north of East Third Street, on the afternoon of March 31.

Turner was not hit by the bullet.

Police allege Dennis, 41, struck Turner with his 2009 Nissan Maxima and that a passenger in the vehicle, Robert Vettese, 30, fired a gun at him from the vehicle. Dennis is from Drexel Hill while Vettese is from Brookhaven, both Philadelphia suburbs.

As Turner bolted down the steep road onto Warrensville Road looking for anyone to help him, Dennis put his car in reverse and sped down the road and took off on Warrensville Road.

“He was running for his life,” motorist Shelly Ann Hepler, said of Turner. “He was screaming at the top of his lungs ‘Help me, help me,’ “ she added.

She with her husband were doing errands in the area and stopped to help Turner.

The car backing down the road was coming so fast “I thought he lost his brakes. I thought he was going in the creek,” the witness said.

Turner, who lost one of his shoes and his pair of glasses after being hit by the car, was shaking when the couple stopped to help him.

“He told us that he had just been hit by a car and that he flew up in the air. He landed on the ground and that they (the occupants in the vehicle) shot at him. He said he didn’t know them,” the witness said.

“He had road rash all over him,” she added.

Using their cellphone, the Good Samaritans called state police, who responded as did township paramedics.

After being treated at the scene for minor injuries, Turner declined to go to the hospital.

Others who testified at the hearing before District Judge Gary Whiteman were Troopers Joel Follmer, Russell Ramin and Rebecca Parker, the lead investigator in the place.

At the conclusion, District Judge Gary Whiteman ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold Dennis on all charges, including nine additional conspiracy-related charges that were added to the original complaint at the start of the hearing.

Several new pieces of information came to light from the troopers’ testimonies, including shortly after the shooting, both Dennis and Vettese went to Walmart in Montoursville, where store video recorded Vettese entering and exiting the men’s rest room.

In the rest room, police later recovered a loaded handgun that was in the trash. Investigators are awaiting the results of ballistics tests to determine if a casing recovered at the shooting scene on Robbins Road matches the weapon.

After leaving Walmart, the two men walked across the parking lot to Wendy’s. When they came out of the restaurant, they saw police cars surrounding Dennis’ car, so they called an acquaintance, who drove them to the Philadelphia area.

When they were back in Philadelphia, the two allegedly conspired to file an erroneous report with Philadelphia police that Dennis’ car had been stolen.

Dennis will face further court action on charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and related offenses.

Vettese was expected to have his hearing as well, but it was rescheduled for May 6 because he had not yet obtained an attorney. Both men remain jailed in the Lycoming County Prison without bail.