GREENSBURG – At first, it looked like suicide in the suburbs, with a twist: The 14-year-old boy found dead in the woods behind his home one morning last July had been killed with a state senator’s pistol.
But investigators have been unable to rule out an accident – or foul play. It didn’t help that the senator’s son, who had a five-minute phone conversation with the victim late on the night of the shooting, stopped talking to police as the investigation wore on and refused to testify at an inquest.
Now, the case has turned into a battle of father versus father, neighbor versus neighbor – with J. Douglas Farrell looking for meaning in the death of his son Louis, and Sen. Robert Regola III trying to protect his son Bobby.
Both fathers testified at the two-day inquest last month, their words only widening the divide between the two families.
Sen. Regola, who has said his son had no involvement in the shooting, swore under oath that he never stored his 9mm Taurus handgun in his son’s bedroom, even though two state troopers said the senator told them he did just that months earlier.
A teenage friend testified Bobby Regola flashed a 9mm handgun in front of him and Louis a year or two before the shooting. Bobby even showed them bullets, saying he kept the gun for “protection.”
The inquest’s hearing officer said the physical evidence strongly suggests suicide. But he also said he might recommend that the district attorney file charges of aiding or recklessly contributing to the teen’s death.
“I think the evidence proves, and I have said this since day one, that Bobby Regola was back there with Lou Farrell,” said Jon Perry, the Pittsburgh attorney representing the Farrells. “I think they were back there being kids and something terrible happened.”
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