Trial set for June 24 in ex-wife's 1999 killing

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A man accused of killing his ex-wife in 1999 is scheduled to go to trial on June 24.

John D. Minch, who was not charged for 10 years after the Bethel Park slaying, said he will represent himself in a nonjury trial before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning.

Mr. Minch is accused of stabbing his ex-wife, Melissa Groot, to death on May 6, 1999. Hairs recovered from the scene were not tested for several years after the initial crime. DNA analysis shows that one of them matches Mr. Minch, the prosecution said.

Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey, who offered to represent Mr. Minch, will serve as stand-by counsel during the trial.

"I told him he's making a huge mistake if he represents himself," Mr. Thomassey told the court.

During a hearing before Judge Manning on Monday, Mr. Minch said there were still outstanding issues on discovery that he believed have not been settled with the prosecution.

Among the information he's seeking is data recovered from Groot's husband, David Groot, who was ruled out as a suspect, that Mr. Minch thinks could be exculpatory.

"The commonwealth has had 14 years to eliminate any evidence that may have helped me in my defense," Mr. Minch said.

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