Prosecutor says deadly force not justified in Penn Borough shooting

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Sept. 22 – A Penn Borough man told a Westmoreland County jury on Wednesday that he had been shot in the chest by his landlord last summer.

Nathan Booher, 26, testified that on August 28, 2021, he was unarmed when he entered the house where he had lived with his mother’s boyfriend for the past three years and was shot after refusing to leave the residence.

Michael Keslar, 45, of Penn Borough, is on trial for attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault and reckless danger.

“I can’t remember what Mike Keslar said, but he pulled a gun and fired warning shots as I stood by the front door,” Booher testified during the first day of the trial before Westmoreland County Common Pleas judge Tim Krieger Court.

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Booher testified that he paid Keslar $200 every two weeks to live in the house.

The prosecution says there is no justification for Keslar to use deadly force, according to Assistant District Attorney Jackie Knupp.

Tim Andrews, Keslar’s attorney, told jurors that his client acted in self-defense and believed Booher intended to harm him after the two men fought while drinking at the Penn Rod and Gun Club earlier that evening.

Booher testified that he was originally armed when he and Keslar walked to the bar earlier that day to attend a shootout, but that he had no weapon when he was shot.

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He said he later in the day complied with Keslar’s demand to give him the weapon, as both men continued to drink at the club before a disagreement between the men ended the evening.

Booher told the jurors that he walked to his mother’s house a few blocks away, demanded her gun, and when she refused, he smashed a window of her car.

“I remember being angry that night,” Booher testified. He later told the judges, “I walked back to Michael Keslar’s house, sat outside and tried to calm down.”

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Prosecutors allege Booher’s mother sent a series of text messages to Keslar about the altercation that included a claim that her son was planning to kill her boyfriend.

Booher testified that he punched a code on an electronic keyboard to enter through the front door of the house and was greeted by a gun-wielding Keslar.

Booher was hospitalized for 41 days after the shooting and underwent multiple surgeries, he testified.

The trial continues on Thursday.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich by email at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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