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Man sentenced for second time in 1984 slaying

October 21, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - George Wallace Stanford Jr. apologized to the family of his victim Wednesday in Franklin County Court as he was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in state prison for the killing of a Mercersburg, Pa., man that occurred more than 20 years ago.

Stanford, 47, formerly of Chambersburg, had been convicted in 1986 of second-degree murder in the Feb. 7, 1984, stabbing death of Jeffrey Crisswell Beatty. He was sentenced to life in prison, but a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned his conviction in February 2003, according to court records.

On Sept. 1, Stanford pleaded no contest to third-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit theft, according to court records.

"Nothing can bring back my brother," said Ronald Beatty of Mercersburg, Jeffrey Beatty's brother. He said his brother was the youngest child in his family, "my mother's baby," according to the transcript of the hearing.

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Beatty said one member of his family is still in therapy 20 years after Jeffrey Beatty's death.

"Give Mr. Stanford as much of a sentence as the law allows," Beatty said.

"I'd like to apologize to the Beatty family for all the pain and suffering I've caused through the years," Stanford said, according to a hearing transcript.

"I also lost a brother in Franklin County Prison. He hung himself in 1993," Stanford said. "I can feel your pain also."

"I can only ask you to forgive me for the pain and suffering I've caused your family," Stanford said.

At the time Beatty was killed, the maximum sentence for third-degree murder was 20 years in prison, a sentence that since has been increased to 40 years. Under the terms of the plea agreement between Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson and Stanford's attorney, David Wertime, Stanford was to receive a 20-year sentence for the killing and five years on probation for the criminal conspiracy charge.

Judge John Walker gave Stanford 17 years, 10 months and 18 days credit for time served, according to court records.

According to court records, Stanford and the late Robert Grover Wright of Hagerstown went to Beatty's Peters Township home to steal cash and cocaine. Stanford allegedly assaulted Beatty with a hammer and knife during the incident.

One element of the superior court's ruling had to do with the testimony of Wright, who died before Stanford went to trial. Wright had agreed to testify for the prosecution, but died in a motorcycle accident before the case went to trial, according to court records.

Wright had, however, testified at Stanford's preliminary hearing and a transcript of the testimony was used in the trial. The judge in the case allowed the jury to have the transcript during deliberations, the superior court ruling stated.

While introduced as evidence at the trial, state law prohibits such documents from being available to a jury during deliberations, according to the court ruling.

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