Homicide cases from 2002 pushed back again

December 30, 2003|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Defendants in two 2002 criminal homicide cases recently were granted continuances in county court, according to the Franklin County District Attorney's Office.

The cases of Bruce Bernard Forsythe Sr. and William Edward Cleary have both been continued until the March trial term, according to the district attorney's office.

"We're waiting on the completion of the commonwealth's psychiatric evaluation" of Forsythe, Assistant District Attorney David W. Rahauser said Monday. A defense evaluation has already been completed, he said.


Forsythe, 54, of 6283 Molly Pitcher Highway, Chambersburg, was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault in the Nov. 24, 2002, shooting of his estranged wife, Joanna Plummer, 32.

The day after his April mandatory arraignment in county court, the prosecution filed a notice of aggravating circumstances in the case, a requirement to seeking the death penalty in Pennsylvania. The aggravating circumstance was that Plummer had been granted a protection from abuse order about two weeks before her death.

Defense attorney David S. Keller later filed a motion to quash the notice because it was filed a day late, according to court records. Rahauser said the court has yet to resolve that issue.

Pennsylvania State Police allege Forsythe shot Plummer in the back of the head and in the chest outside his home. Police allege Plummer went to their former residence that day and was shot during an argument.

Forsythe called 911 to report the killing, according to police records.

Cleary, 30, of 137 E. Garfield St., was charged with first-degree murder in the July 6, 2002, stabbing death of his estranged wife, Teresa Jean Cleary, 32, of 2208 Lincoln Way East, according to court records.

William Cleary went to Teresa Cleary's house that day and stabbed her multiple times in front of several witnesses, Pennsylvania State Police allege.

Cleary's case has been continued eight times since it was originally scheduled for the November 2002 trial term, according to court records.

Part of the delay was due to his original attorney being granted a request to withdraw from the case, according to court records. Public Defender Michael J. Toms was later appointed as his attorney.

In June, Toms asked the court to appoint a forensic pathologist and psychiatrist in the case, court records say.

An ominbus pre-trial hearing on several issues in the case has been rescheduled several times. It is now scheduled for Feb. 12, according to the clerk of courts office.

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