After a separate murder conviction was overturned, a state court of appeals has ordered a Pennsylvania man's drug crime conviction to be reviewed. The man's sentence for alleged drug dealing may also be changed during the course of the review.
In January 2004, the man was convicted on five drug charges. He was arrested in 2003 after allegedly selling crack cocaine to confidential police informants on multiple occasions. Following his conviction, the man was sentenced to 17 to 34 years in jail.
While the man was out on bail awaiting his drug crime trial, he was reportedly involved in the shooting death of one of the prosecution witnesses in his trial. According to police records, the 31-year-old witness had acted as a police informant, and was scheduled to testify in the man's drug charges trial a week after his death.
In a separate murder trial, the man was convicted of killing the witness, and he received a life sentence with no possibility of parole. However, in June 2008, a court of appeals granted the man a new trial on the homicide charges. The reason for this was an error in courtroom procedure that occurred when the jurors were not given a required "oath of truthfulness."
Now, in the wake of the new murder trial order, the man's drug sentence will also be reviewed and possibly changed. It is possible that the sentence will be reduced based on statements made by the judge at the initial drug case sentencing. In addition, his attorney has filed an appeal with a federal court, arguing that double jeopardy will apply if the man is put through a second murder trial.
Source: Times Union, "Drug dealer's sentence gets review," Bob Gardinier, Dec. 29, 2011
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