Murder charges against a key Pittsburgh area recruiter for the neo-Nazi National Alliance have been dropped after a witness to the killing failed to appear at a coroner's inquest.
Michael Stehle, 26, had been charged with killing an apparent antiracist Skinhead who invaded his Mount Washington home on Feb. 8.
Police say that at 4:45 a.m. on that day, Brian Hartzell, 24, and another man knocked at the door of the home Stehle shared with roommates Joseph Foley, 28, and Robert Reichel, 27. Hartzell and his companion claimed to be acquaintances of Reichel's, but once inside, police say, they pulled a handgun and a shotgun.
Hartzell was apparently angry because he believed a resident of the house had beaten a friend. During the home invasion, Reichel managed to escape and call police while Hartzell held Foley at gunpoint in a first-floor living room. Stehle, meanwhile, came down the stairs and allegedly fired three shots, killing Hartzell.
In Stehle's home, police recovered an AK-47 assault rifle as well as magazines and paraphernalia from extreme right-wing groups including the National Alliance.
Alliance chieftain William Pierce, speaking before the charges were dropped, said the killing was justified. "Armed intruders came into [Stehle's] home under false pretenses, pulled guns and one of them got killed," Pierce said.