Suspect arrested in 2011 stabbing death

Roberto M. Esquivel | Herald-Standard

Robert Leroy Daniels Jr., 42, of Connellsville, is escorted from the office of Magisterial District Judge Ronald Haggerty by Connellsville patrolman Pat Ruff, Thursday afternoon. Daniels is charged in the stabbing death of David Gida in June 2011.

After more than two years of investigation, police have filed charges against a Connellsville man they say stabbed another man to death following a party in Connellsville.

Robert Leroy Daniels Jr., 42, of 233 Apple St. Apt. B, was charged Thursday with criminal homicide, robbery and two counts each of theft and receiving stolen property in the stabbing death of David Gida of Connellsville.

State police Trooper John F. Marshall, who oversees cold case homicides for the state police in Uniontown, said that a tip received by Connellsville police Wednesday evening led to Daniels’ arrest.

Gida, 56, was found on the floor in the dining area of his apartment on June 8, 2011, with multiple stab wounds to the neck. He was pronounced dead by Fayette County Deputy Coroner Dennis Heath at 12:56 p.m.

Gida was apparently having a small party at his apartment at 304 Rear S. Pittsburgh St., where he and friends had gathered to watch the NBA finals, Marshall said.

All of the party-goers were interviewed by police in the days and weeks after the homicide. Each person said they left the night of June 7 or early June 8. Gida was still alive when they departed, according to investigators at the time of the stabbing.

When Gida’s son stopped to see his father late that morning, he found him unresponsive and called 911, Marshall said.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case by Connellsville police Sgt. Ryan Reese, officers discovered that Gida had been robbed, specifically noting that a gold necklace and silver ring had been stolen from his home.

Initially, emergency personnel thought Gida died of natural causes, but upon closer inspection, medical personnel found stab wounds. An autopsy conducted by forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht revealed that Gida died as a result of those wounds, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

At the time of the stabbing, Connellsville police Chief James Capitos described the homicide as “determined” and “vicious.”

The case, which was featured in the Herald-Standard cold-case series, began to heat up after the story ran on New Year’s Eve, Marshall said, with multiple tips, some of which pointed to Daniels as the suspect, being received by police.

However, the case didn’t break until Wednesday evening, when Connellsville police, investigating an unrelated incident, received information that Daniels had stabbed Gida, Marshall said.

Police subsequently picked up Daniels and interviewed him, and Daniels admitted to the crime, Marshall said.

Reese said that Daniels told police that the night of the incident he had been drinking and taking drugs and that at some point he picked up a knife that had been on the kitchen table and stabbed Gida in the neck two times. Marshall said it is not entirely clear what might have motivated Daniels.

During his arraignment Thursday, Daniels told Magisterial District Judge Ronald Haggerty that he is unemployed and on disability and is the father of two children. He also told the court that he has problems with mental illness and that he is addicted to “cocaine, crack, marijuana and pills.”

Daniels was placed in Fayette County Prison without bond.

He will face a preliminary hearing at a later date before Haggerty.

Daniels does not have a prior criminal record.

Herald-Standard reporter Diana Lasko contributed to this report.

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