Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Convicted murderer Munchinski loses federal appeal

October 26, 2007

By The Tribune-Review

A federal appeals court has denied an appeal by a convicted killer seeking to be released from prison because of alleged prosecutorial misconduct and malicious prosecution.

David Munchinski, 55, formerly of Latrobe, lost his bid for release Friday after the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed two prior district court decisions.

In a 16-page ruling in August 2006, U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone wrote that Munchinski's allegations of false arrest, false imprisonment and abuse of process are "time barred" by a two-year window in Pennsylvania "for personal injury" claims.

Munchinski was convicted , along with the late Leon Scaglione of the double murders of James "Petey" Alford, 22, of Hempfield, Westmoreland County, and Raymond Gierke, 28, of Bear Rocks, Fayette County, who were raped and shot in Gierke's residence in 1977.

Munchinski and Scaglione were convicted of first-degree murder in 1986 and each were given two life sentences. Scaglione, formerly of New Alexandria, died in state prison in 1996.

Munchinski's attorney, Noah Geary, of Washington County, argued that former state police trooper Montgomery Goodwin claimed that Fayette County judges Gerald Solomon and Ralph Warman, who were prosecutors at the time, tampered with a police report and withheld evidence.

Munchinski filed his lawsuit in August 2005 on the strength of an October 2004 ruling by a visiting Common Pleas judge who vacated his convictions and life sentences. In a 120-page opinion, Judge Barry Feudale, of Northumberland County, accused the prosecutors, now both Fayette County judges, of misconduct for tampering with a police report and withholding evidence from Munchinski's defense attorneys.

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