Schuylkill county to governor: The Mexican is dead, now leave us alone

Ed Rendell won't be wolfing down hot dogs at the Schuylkill County Democratic shindig this summer.

Not if the governor doesn't want to go nose-to-nose with Democratic Commissioner Francis McAndrew, who's beet-red over a letter Rendell sent to the Department of Justice last week asking the feds to pursue federal charges against Shenandoah teens involved in the beating death of a Mexican national.

Derrick M. Donchak, 19, and Brandon J. Piekarsky, 17, were convicted by a Pottsville jury last month of just simple assault, despite testimony that Luis Ramirez, 25, was punched, kicked and stomped to death last July.

“All the sudden he’s an expert on the case,” McAndrew squawked, calling the letter “a slap in the face to Schuylkill County." He also took a swipe at Rendell's record as Philadelphia district attorney: "You have to step over bodies in Philadelphia."

Congressman Tim Holden jumped into the fray, saying “the trial is over" and that he and state Rep. Neal Goodman "tried to convince the governor there was no positive purpose to send the letter."

It's hardly surprising that Goodman would gang up on the gov. His cousin is District Attorney Jim Goodman, whose office is widely viewed as bungling the case.

At least nobody came right out and told the governor, "We do things different around here."

Rendelll was in Wednesday to discuss transportation initiatives with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, but a spokesman said, “The governor did not intend to slap the entire county.”

In fact, there are valid reasons the feds should investigate the Ramirez murder investigation. The prosecution voluntarily dropped second-degree murder charges -- murder that occurs during the commission of another felony, such as aggravated assault, which these set of circumstances might reasonably support. The youths were never charged with conspiracy, which meant lawyers could dicker over which kid's kick to the skull actually killed Ramirez. And, oh, the U.S. attorney might want to probe the role of one Shenandoah cop, who was dating the mother of one of the thugs, about whether he coached the boys on getting their stories straight, which to some grand juries might smell suspiciously like obstruction of justice.

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