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Attorney asks for recusal days before robbery trial

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Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 12:00 am

Editor's note: This article contains graphic content.

Days before today's scheduled trial date, the attorney for one of the three men charged in connection with a string of robberies and burglaries filed to have the judge and the prosecutor in the case recuse themselves after the man made threats against the officials lives, according to court documents.

According to the pretrial motion filed Thursday, Dmitriy Litvinov, 25, of Boalsburg, shared plans for killing Centre County President Judge Thomas Kistler, Centre County District Attorney Stacey Parks Miller and sheriff’s deputies with a former cell mate.

Litvinov and his co-defendants, Maksim Illarionov, of State College, and Anatoliy Veretnov, of Erie, face charges relating to 40 separate incidents throughout 2009 and 2010 in connection with a string of armed robberies and burglaries of homes and businesses, according to court documents. They are charged with multiple counts of robbery, simple assault, criminal mischief, theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy.

At the Centre County Correctional Facility, where he has been held since March 2010, Litvinov told a cell mate that his associates -- referred to as “boys” -- followed Kistler home once and know where he lives, according to the pretrial motion, which cites an incident report filed by an officer at the with the Pennsylvania State Police at Rockview. Litvinov said he “[would] feed him [Kistler] to the hogs,” according to the pretrial motion. According to the pretrial motion, the incident report also said Litvinov outlined plans to harm Parks Miller.

“If they [Litvinov’s associates] get her, they will keep her for three days, rape her and cut her up in little pieces and flush her down the toilet,” Litvinov said, according to the pretrial motion citing the incident report.

Also according to the pretrial motions, Litvinov said he thought there would be a mistrial if Kistler or Parks Miller didn’t show up at trial.

“Mistrial if she does not show up,” Litvinov said, according to the pretrial motion. “You can not prosecute a case is [sic] she was not around.”

A mistrial was already declared in the case in 2011 when Alexei Semionov, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a fourth co-defendant, pleaded guilty. Semionov was sentenced in February to serve anywhere from 36 years and one month to 72 years and two months in a state prison.

Daniel Nelson, the attorney for Litvinov, wrote in the pretrial motion that Kistler and Parks Miller should recuse themselves from the case. Nelson wrote that because there were threats made against them, the officials' impartiality in the case is reasonably questioned.

Also in the pretrial motion was a request to suppress phone records in the trial citing the lack of probable cause in the obtaining of the records. Nelson also filed for continuance to allow for time to find a new attorney in the case at the defendant’s request.

By Friday, Kistler had not ruled on any of the filings.

Police originally charged Litvinov, Illarionov and Semionov in connection with an incident in which police said the men drove around State College and stashed stolen property after burglarizing a State College resident in March 2010.

Police said originally, the men tried to rob Uncle Chen’s Chinese Restaurant, 430 E. Calder Way, but they realized it was closed and instead robbed a home. The men drove to a residence by Hillcrest Avenue and Glenn Road where Semionov stole car chains and a garage door opener from the garage before being caught by police, police said.

Litvinov and Illarionov were arrested after reconvening at the Penn State technology center.

They were eventually charged in connection with several armed robberies at local businesses and residences from November 2009 to March 2010.

The trial is scheduled to start this morning in the Courthouse Annex of the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte.

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