HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona teenager who provided the handgun used a year ago in a broad daylight shooting at a busy Altoona intersection will serve a five- to 15-year prison sentence.
William Edward Kern, now 19, pleaded guilty in Blair County Court on Friday to firearms offenses associated with the shooting.
Kern also pleaded guilty to offenses that were filed in March, after he argued with a county corrections officer, and to charges that were filed in February 2021 for his role in a drug and tobacco smuggling effort in the county jail. .
Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan, who accepted the guilty pleas and imposed the recommended incarceration, told Kern he should take advantage of the classes the state Department of Corrections provides. disposal of prisoners.
“You are a young man” the judge said looking at the chained up Kern dressed in a red and white striped prison uniform.
Chief Public Defender Russ Mongtomery also referenced Kern’s age and lack of financial resources when he asked the judge to impose lower fines for the infractions.
“He’s going to be young when he comes out” said Montgomery.
Assistant District Attorney Justin Shickman told Sullivan that Kern’s guilty pleas relate to five firearms offenses filed by Altoona police in June 2021.
They include third-degree criminal offenses of carrying a firearm without a license, two firearm transfer violations, prohibited possession of a firearm and a second-degree misdemeanor of tampering with or fabricating evidence. .
Altoona police filed the charges after identifying Kern as the person who secured a 9mm handgun he sold to 17-year-old Preston Weakland.
Weakland is accused of shooting the weapon at two people on June 12, 2021, during a confrontation at 17th Street and 7th Avenue, an area of traffic and pedestrians frequenting local businesses.
Court documents indicate that after the confrontation, Kern retrieved the gun and took it apart, then swabbed it with bleach/alcohol to remove the fingerprints.
Weakland’s charges, which include attempted murder, are still pending in county court.
Kern’s pleas also related to charges laid by Hollidaysburg Borough police earlier this year after investigating a fight between Kern and a correctional officer. The fight developed after Kern began questioning the officer about why inmates were being ordered back to their cells.
Kern pleaded guilty to felony second-degree aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.
To address Kern’s charges filed for his role in a county jail drug and tobacco smuggling effort, Sullivan authorized the immediate transfer of the charges from juvenile court to adult court.
This put Kern in a position to return guilty pleas to criminal conspiracy to supply contraband and contraband offense, in addition to possession with intent to deliver and criminal use of a communication device,
Kern was 17 when he drove to a vacant house near the county jail and dropped off a black plastic bag where an inmate was supposed to find it. Instead, a neighbor who saw Kern drop off the bag contacted police who launched an investigation.
At a jury trial in April, Kern testified on behalf of his mother, Crystal Rose Conner, and admitted to leaving the bag containing drugs and tobacco in the vacant house. Kern told the jury that he and inmate Robert Conner Jr. had made the necessary arrangements. The jury found that Crystal Rose Conner was also involved and convicted her of criminal conspiracy to supply contraband and related offences.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.