Accused Montgomery County church gunman to stand trial

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The man charged with a fatal shooting at a church in Montgomery County has been ordered to stand trial. (WPVI)

The man charged with a fatal shooting at a church in Montgomery County was ordered to stand trial during a preliminary hearing on Thursday.

Mark Storms, 46, of Lansdale, is charged with killing 27-year-old Robert Braxton III during church services at Keystone Fellowship Church in Montgomeryville on April 24th.

Dozens of people attended the preliminary hearing to support Braxton's family, including his grieving parents.

"It's been devastating. We miss him so much. We miss him every minute of the day. He was a good kid," said his mother, Hilda Braxton.

Witnesses have said that Braxton was verbally disruptive and agitated at church that morning. In court Thursday, a church member testified that he saw Storms come over and ask Braxton to step outside with him.

When Braxton told him to leave him alone, the witness said Storms pulled out a gun and Braxton punched Storms in the jaw. Then, the witness testified, Braxton started to leave and the two men came face to face, and that's when Storms fired two fatal shots.

"Hearing things that I didn't know... My son was walking away and was past him when he was shot, and he shot to kill my son. He had no right doing this," said Robert Braxton Jr.

But Storms' defense attorney, Vince DiFabio, started to lay out the case that his client was merely defending himself with a gun he had a permit to carry.

"The commonwealth picked out their most favorable witness, but there's at least a half a dozen other witnesses who indicated in the affidavit and their interviews that my client was viciously attacked," DiFabio said.

"It was unreasonable, the actions of the defendant," said Asst. District Attorney Laura Adshead. "That he brought a gun to a crowded church, that he interjected it into a verbal altercation, and that he turned that altercation violent."

The judge's decision to hold the case over for trial prompted applause from the Braxton supporters. They formed a prayer circle in the lobby following the decision.

"We have a long way to go," Braxton's father said. "Justice must be served for my son.

Storms' bail remains at $250,000 cash. An arraignment is scheduled for July 20th.

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