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Singley sentencing set

January 08, 2001|By STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After a three-month "cooling off" period, a jury will decide this month whether or not to give Michael Brandon Singley the death penalty for killing two area residents.

Jury selection will begin next week and testimony will begin Jan. 23, according to Assistant District Attorney Jill McCracken.

Seven days have been set aside on Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Douglas W. Herman's calendar to hear testimony. The jury has only two choices in sentencing Singley - the death penalty or life in prison.

Herman found Singley guilty in September of first-degree murder in the Nov. 3, 1998, shooting of James Gilliam, 39, of Chambersburg. Singley, 24, of Chambersburg, had previously pleaded guilty Aug. 15 to first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Christine Rohrer, 23, which occurred the same night.

According to Chambersburg police records, Singley raped and stabbed Rohrer, the wife of his cousin, Travis Rohrer, at their Elder Street home. He then stabbed and shot Travis Rohrer, shot and killed Gilliam and fired at Gilliam's girlfriend, Deb Hock.

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While Singley's case moves ahead, three other Franklin County murder cases have been postponed.

Cases involving Joan Snyder Hall and Jonna Johnson have been granted continuances until March. It will be at least May before jury selection and a trial will begin for Larry Hull.

Hall, 56, of Greencastle, is charged with criminal homicide and criminal conspiracy in the disappearance of her husband 15 years ago.

In April, Pennsylvania State Police charged Hall and Ronald W. Harshman with the May 25, 1985, disappearance of Melvin E. Snyder. His pickup truck was discovered two days later near Baltimore, but his body was never found, according to police.

Police allege Hall told Harshman, whose wife was having an affair with Snyder, that her husband would be in a barn alone and unarmed the morning he disappeared. Police allege they have matched a .25-caliber shell casing found in Snyder's barn in 1985 with a shell found an inch underground in the yard of Harshman's former home in Antrim Township in 1999.

His case has also been postponed until March.

Johnson, 32, of 405 Philadelphia Ave., Apt. A, Chambersburg, could become the first woman in the county's history to face the death penalty if she is convicted of criminal homicide for the shooting death of a veterans post commander in June.

Johnson is charged with criminal homicide and two counts each of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.

On June 11, three people were shot at the Veterans of the Vietnam War Post, 1571 S. Main St., according to police records. The post's vice commander, Robert E. Tucker, 49, of Chambersburg, died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Kimberly K. Bigler, 37, and William B. Groff Jr., 36, of Fayetteville, Pa., were also shot, but their injuries were not life-threatening.

Hull's case has been continued several times since being granted a new trial by the U.S. Court of Appeals more than a year ago.

The St. Thomas, Pa., man has spent 25 years behind bars for killing his friend, Lloyd Shatzer of St. Thomas, with a rifle and dumping his body down a well.

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