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Singley found competent for homicide trial

February 09, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man charged with criminal homicide in the Nov. 3 deaths of a two people is mentally competent, according to one of his attorneys.

Michael Brandon Singley, 22, of 1126 E. Brandon Drive, was examined last week by psychiatrist Dr. Neil Blumberg, Franklin County Public Defender Robert J. Trambley said.

On Monday Trambley said he would file a motion in court to lift a stay of proceedings that was granted Dec. 17, 1998.

"He understands the proceedings against him and is able to assist his attorneys," Trambley said.

The court had appointed Blumberg to do the examination at the request of the defense.

Singley is charged with two counts of criminal homicide is the deaths of Christine Rohrer, 23, of 391 Elder St., and James Gilliam, 39, of 395 Elder St.

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Rohrer was stabbed to death in the bedroom of her duplex and Gilliam was shot and killed outside his home.

Singley also is charged with two counts of attempted homicide. Borough police said a man shot and stabbed Rohrer's husband, Travis Rohrer, 22, and shot at Deb. L. Hock, 33, who lived with Gilliam.

Singley is Travis Rohrer's cousin.

"We're requesting the court set a time and date for a preliminary hearing," Trambley said.

He said the determination by Blumberg that Singley is competent to go ahead with the case has no bearing on what his mental state was at the time Christine Rohrer and Gilliam were killed.

"It's neither a surprise nor a disappointment," Trambley said. He said the defense is continuing to try to get "all pertinent records" about Singley's background, but declined to indicate if those included medical or psychiatric records.

Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson said Monday his office has not decided whether to seek the death penalty in the case. Nelson said a notice of aggravating circumstances necessary if the death penalty is to be sought could be filed prior to Singley's mandatory arraignment in court.

The affidavit of probable cause filed by borough police against Singley said that Travis Rohrer returned to his home that evening to find a man inside armed with a handgun.

Rohrer was ordered into the bedroom and shot and stabbed, the affidavit says.

Gilliam and Hock were returning home when the man left the Rohrers' home and fired two shots. Gilliam died of a gunshot wound to the chest, but Hock was not wounded, according to police records.

The man drove off in the Rohrers' Jeep, which was found a block away from Singley's house when he was arrested the next day, according to police.

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