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Prosecutor says death penalty won't be sought

June 04, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man charged with criminal homicide in a downtown shooting probably will not face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.

"Based on the evidence presently available it doesn't appear to fit any of the enumerated aggravating circumstances that must be present in order for it to be a death penalty case," Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson said Friday after a hearing before Judge John R. Walker in the case of Timothy J. Ross.

Ross, 25, of 280 Miller St., is being held without bond, charged with the March 1 shooting of Drake Luckett, 34, of 217 Linden Ave.

"We still contend it's first-degree murder, but not capital murder," Nelson said. If convicted of first-degree murder, Ross would face a mandatory life sentence.

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Aggravating circumstances are required to seek the death penalty in Pennsylvania. Those can include committing homicide in the course of another felony, or killing a witness in a criminal case, according to state law.

David R. Yoder said he and co-counsel Thomas S. Diehl asked for the hearing "because no bail had been set at the district justice level and we were challenging the legality of that."

Yoder said they will ask the court to set bail next week.

Nelson said even if a judge sets bond for Ross on the criminal homicide charge, he will try to keep him in the county prison.

Ross was out on bail on a drug charge at the time of the shooting, according to Nelson. "It is likely the commonwealth will ask the court to revoke bond on that charge," he said.

Luckett was shot in the chest at Dave's Tavern, 401 S. Main St., as he was about to leave through the bar's West Catherine Street door, according to borough police records.

Luckett had argued with a man shortly before the shooting, police records said. Several witnesses identified the other man as Ross, police said.

A preliminary hearing before District Justice Gary Carter is scheduled July 8.

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