Munchinski case goes before federal appeals court
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The 1977 Bear Rocks murders will get another airing in court -- this time a federal appeals court -- on June 27, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced late Friday.
David Munchinski, 59, formerly of Latrobe but now living near Tampa, was freed from prison last year, after 25 years, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan. She found that evidence was suppressed at the 1986 trial in which he was found guilty of two counts each of first-degree and second-degree murder in the deaths of James Alford and Raymond Gierke in Bear Rocks, Bullskin, Fayette County.
Fayette County could retry Mr. Munchinski, but key witness Richard Bowen, a burglar and forger, is dead. The state attorney general's office has appealed the judge's decision in hopes of restoring the initial verdict, saying that Mr. Munchinski didn't meet federal habeas corpus standards and Judge Lenihan erred in revoking the verdict against him.
Argument will be held in the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia.
The Innocence Institute of Point Park University wrote a 2002 series on the prosecutorial irregularities that ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Leon Scaglione, who was also convicted in the murders, died in prison.
First Published June 19, 2012 12:00 am