Minturn man gets 20 to 40 years in prison for shooting at cops during robbery | VailDaily.com

Minturn man gets 20 to 40 years in prison for shooting at cops during robbery

Matthew Santoni
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A jury found Jesse D. Callender, 27, of Minturn, guilty of attempted homicide and 14 other counts for shooting at a police officer during a failed attempt to rob a gas station in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.
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MURRYSVILLE, Pennsylvania — A Minturn man will serve 20 to 40 years in a Pennsylvania state prison for robbing a Murrysville gas station and shooting toward responding police officers.

A jury found Jesse D. Callender, 27, of Minturn, guilty of attempted homicide and 14 other counts for shooting at Murrysville, Pennsylvania, officer Matthew Mastorovich on April 20, 2016. Officers returned fire and struck Callender three times.

What happened

Police responded to a Marathon gas station after Callender had reportedly become upset that his credit card was declined and threatened the clerk with a gun if he didn’t activate the gas pumps.

Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, County Court of Common Pleas Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio sentenced Callender to 20 to 40 years, the mandatory sentence for an attempted homicide conviction, prosecutors said. Callender had rejected a plea offer during his trial that would have put him in prison for seven to 15 years.

Bilik-DeFazio also gave Callender prison sentences ranging from one to 20 years on other counts, which included aggravated assault, robbery and reckless endangerment, but made them all concurrent with the attempted homicide charge.

Callender’s mother, Rebecca Callender, asked the judge for mercy, noting that her son had “very rarely” sought help for mental health issues after moving out at 18.

He had a number of entrepreneurial jobs, including selling jewelry outside her antique shop when he was 5 and managing a movie theater as a teenager, and then became a prospector at 20. Jesse Callender was going back to Colorado after visiting his mother at his grandmother’s house in western Maryland when the shooting occurred.

“I believe he can be a truly positive member of society,” Rebecca Callender said. “This is not consistent with my son’s behavior in the past.”

Defense attorney Greg Cecchetti argued that prosecutors never gave him written notice that they would seek a state mandatory penalty, and he said he held back testimony at trial from a psychiatric expert who could have spoken to Callender’s mental health issues.

“It’s clear from the report that Jesse did suffer from schizophrenic and other kinds of medical, bipolar issues,” Cecchetti said.

Callender intends to appeal his conviction, Cecchetti said.

Matthew Santoni is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6660 and msantoni@tribweb.com.