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Murder trial delayed until Jan.

November 05, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The trial of a Chambersburg man charged with the 2002 murder of his estranged wife was delayed until at least January following a pre-trial conference Thursday morning in Franklin County Court.

"It's obvious to the court this case can't be tried in November," Judge John Walker said. Walker set jury selection for William Cleary, 31, of 137 E. Garfield St. for Jan. 10, 2005, with a tentative trial date of Jan. 24.

Cleary is charged with first-degree murder in the July 6, 2002, stabbing death of Teresa Jean Cleary, 33, outside her Fayetteville, Pa., apartment.

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Walker said he still has to rule on some issues raised by attorneys in pre-trial motions, including statements Teresa Cleary reportedly made to Pennsylvania State Police three days before she was killed and statements by William Cleary's former wife.

Teresa Cleary told police on July 3, 2002, that her husband came to her house and threatened to kill her, according to court records. William Cleary was questioned later that night and denied making the threat, according to police records.

Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Tim Wilmot wants that statement admitted, along with statements made by Cleary's former wife, who wrote in a 1996 protection-from-abuse application that he threatened to shoot her and cut her throat if she was ever unfaithful.

Public Defender Michael Toms has asked the court not to admit those statements at trial.

Toms earlier this year also asked the court to order forensic tests on a rape kit and other evidence collected at the time of the killing, but never analyzed. Toms said that evidence has now been tested, but has declined to indicate how the evidence might assist the defense.

Cleary has had a psychiatric examination by a defense expert, but an examination by a prosecution psychiatrist has yet to be performed, Toms said.

Walker said the defense will need time to review the results of that examination after it is conducted.

William Cleary is facing life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

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