New Castle man will stand trial on vehicular homicide charge

Associated Press

NEW CASTLE, Pa.

A 67-year-old New Castle man has been ordered to stand trial after he waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges he was under the influence of a painkiller when he drove his pickup truck into a yard, killing a 7-year-old boy and injuring his 9-year-old friend.

Virgil Coonfare waived the hearing Thursday on charges including homicide by vehicle and aggravated assault by vehicle, both while under the influence of a controlled substance.

New Castle police say Coonfare was intoxicated when he struck and killed 7-year-old Octavius Stone and injured 9-year-old Emil Velez, while the boys were playing in the front yard of Velez’s grandmother’s home Nov. 25.

Police and witnesses said he drove over the sidewalk and up an embankment in front of Emil’s grandmother’s house on the corner of Winslow Avenue and Stanton Street.

They said he hit the boys, who were standing at the top of a set of concrete steps leading up the embankment.

A Pennsylvania State Police drug-recognition expert told New Castle police Coonfare was under the influence of a central- nervous system depressant and a narcotic analgesic, a police report indicates.

Coonfare has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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