4 held for court in killing of gas station clerk

Four young men accused in the shooting death of a gas station clerk in Silver Spring Township will remain in the Cumberland County Prison while their cases head to trial.

Nineteen-year-olds Tyler Bradshaw and Shante Rice, and 20-year-old Christian Conway, all of Mechanicsburg, were held for court during a preliminary hearing Friday before District Judge Paula Correal.

A fourth defendant, 17-year-old Brandon Mathna, of Carlisle, waived his preliminary hearing and allowed his case to proceed to court without appearing before the judge.

Correal scheduled a formal arraignment for March 28.

Each of the defendants is being held without bail on charges of criminal homicide, robbery and conspiracy in the killing of 55-year-old Linda Ness.

Ness, a Carlisle mother of three, had been killed by a single gunshot wound to the neck and chest November 18 when she was found dead by a customer behind the counter of the Hess Express in the 7000 block of Carlisle Pike.

During Friday's hearing, police and other investigators testified that the four defendants were looking to commit a robbery when Conway drove the group to the gas station. Rice acted as a scout before Bradshaw and Mathna went into the store with Mathna acting as a lookout.

Bradshaw pulled a .22 caliber gun from his waistband, pointed it at Ness, and told her to “turn around and get the money,” according to police testimony based on recorded interviews with the defendants.

Bradshaw told investigators the gun went off accidentally and he and Mathna fled the store, police said during the hearing.

Bradshaw's defense attorney asked Correal to dismiss the robbery counts since nothing was taken from the store, but first assistant district attorney Jaime Keating quickly defended the charges.

“The comment was that nothing was taken and obviously the thing that was taken and can't be replaced is Linda Ness's life,” Keating said after the hearing. “It left a very big whole in a lot of people's lives and that's something that can't be replaced, and you don't get extra credit because you didn't take additional stuff during the robbery itself.”

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