Pa. man gets life without parole

June 21, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Timothy J. Ross was silent Wednesday in Franklin County Court as he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for first-degree murder.

"He's not a cold-blooded killer," his mother Belinda Mellott said after Ross received the mandatory sentence from Judge John R. Walker.

Ross, 26, of Chambersburg, was sentenced one week after a jury found him guilty of the March 1, 1998, shooting death of Drake Luckett, 34, of 217 Linden Ave.

"I think he should have gotten self-defense," said Mellott, who came to last week's trial from Johnstown, Pa. Ross had testified at the three-day trial he fired at Luckett outside Dave's Tavern, 401 S. Main St., when he saw him come out a side door crouched over and reaching beneath his sweater.


"We were shocked when they came up with first-degree. We thought it would be third-degree," said Serena Reaid of Chambersburg, Ross' half-sister. She said it was her opinion Ross should have been tried in a different county because of pre-trial publicity.

Walker ordered that Ross not be transferred from Franklin County Prison for 10 days so that he can stay in contact with his lawyers to prepare an appeal.

"At this point we know we will appeal, but the specific route depends on some tactical considerations," co-counsel David Yoder said Wednesday.

He said Ross could appeal his conviction directly to the Court of Common Pleas where he was tried, or go directly to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Yoder said a motion for reconsideration could result in Walker either denying the appeal, or granting Ross a new trial.

Walker told Ross he has 10 days to file the appeal. If the judge denies it, Ross would have 30 days from Walker's decision to appeal to Superior Court, Walker said.

The jury deliberated four hours before finding Ross guilty of first-degree murder. Ross and Luckett, who had never met before the night of the shooting, had a confrontation in the bar after Ross greeted him with a racial slur.

Ross testified he had mistaken Luckett for a friend and Assistant District Attorney David Rahauser stressed during the trial that there was no racial aspect to the shooting. Luckett was new in town, but Ross was friends with a number of the bar's black patrons.

Ross testified he had been given the gun by a friend to protect himself from Luckett. Despite his testimony that he believed Luckett was about to attack him, there was no evidence at the trial that Luckett had a weapon.

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