A defense attorney and a district judge are taking umbrage with Cambria County District Attorney Patrick Kiniry’s decision to refile charges in connection with a schoolgirl’s death.

At a preliminary hearing in October, Johnstown District Judge Leonard Grecek dismissed three felony vehicular homicide charges and two summary counts that had been filed against Shannon Dykeman, 33.

Grecek had upheld involuntary manslaughter and careless driving charges in the Jan. 31 death of 15-year-old Kyna Sokol, a Greater Johnstown sophomore who was struck by the defendant’s van as she crossed Franklin Street.

But Johnstown police, at Kiniry’s direction, have refiled the same charges Grecek dismissed.

Johnstown attorney Kevin Rozich, who represents Dykeman, on Tuesday alleged that Kiniry is “shopping” for magistrates in an attempt to get vehicular homicide charges held for county court action.

Rozich contends prosecutors do not have any new evidence to support the refiled charges.

“They can’t go district-judge shopping. ... They just want (the charges) rubber-stamped to go to court. District Judge Leonard Grecek made the proper decision,” Rozich said.

Meanwhile, Grecek is disputing Kiniry’s contention that the magistrate made an legal error in dismissing the summary offenses.

“I’m not a legal illiterate. I think I know the law pretty well,” said Grecek, who has been a district judge for 15 years.

Kiniry denied the accusation that he was “shopping” for magistrates, noting he already had explained his rationale. He declined to comment further.

Kiniry had said that, under court rules, a district judge does not have the authority to rule on a summary offense when it is tied to felony or misdemeanor charges.

But Grecek contends that rule did not go into effect until Aug. 1, long after the alleged offenses in this case took place. There is no legal evidence to support the contention that the rule is retroactive and applies to the Dykeman case, Grecek contended.

Grecek noted that county Assistant District Attorney Ed Connor, who was at Dykeman’s preliminary hearing, had not brought up that issue during legal arguments about the magistrate’s authority concerning summary charges.

“Shouldn’t (Connor) have known that then?” Grecek asked.

Kiniry declined to comment on Grecek’s stance and said Connor also would not comment.

Rozich said that, after he gets a chance to review the refiled charges, he will decide what his legal options are.

“I intend to continue to challenge the allegations of criminality. It was an accident. It’s not a criminal matter. It’s a civil matter,” Rozich said.

Dykeman, whose address now is listed as the 100 block of Fairfield Avenue, has said he had no chance to avoid the girl when she darted out in front of him.

But an accident reconstructionist has testified that Dykeman was driving at 45 mph to 49 mph in a 25-mph zone at the time.

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