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No charges filed in woman's death

August 29, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - No charges had been filed as of Tuesday in the death of a Franklin County, Pa., woman found shot in her home Monday afternoon, but Pennsylvania State Police have scheduled a press conference for 2 p.m. today.

Paul G. Devoe III, a suspect in the killings of five people in Texas, was arraigned Tuesday in Suffolk County, N.Y., on a fugitive warrant, a day after his capture in the Long Island town of Shirley, said Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson. Two state police investigators and Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner went to New York on Monday to interview Devoe in connection with the death of 81-year-old Betty Jane Dehart, police said.

The evidence in the case will be presented to the District Attorney's Office to determine what charges might be brought against Devoe, whom police described as a person of interest in the homicide.

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In announcing the capture of Devoe, the subject of a nationwide manhunt, the U.S. Marshals Service stated Monday that he was in possession of a vehicle registered to a Pennsylvania woman.

Conner said Tuesday that he would not release the results of Dehart's autopsy until today's press conference, although a member of the Marshals Service said she died of a gunshot wound to the head.

If charges are filed against Devoe today, it could be a long time before he might face arraignment or trial in Pennsylvania, Nelson said.

"Texas is going to get him first, because they already have charges and he was arrested on their warrant," Nelson said. Not having reviewed the evidence or statements collected by investigators, Nelson refused to comment on whether Devoe might face the death penalty in Pennsylvania.

Under Pennsylvania law, a person has to be convicted of first-degree murder and aggravating circumstances must be present for the death penalty to be sought. The long list of aggravating circumstances includes a killing committed in the perpetration of a felony or if the "defendant has been convicted of another murder committed in any jurisdiction and committed either before or at the time of the offense at issue."

Texas has executed 400 people since 1982, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Pennsylvania has executed three since 1995, according to center data.

A judge Tuesday ordered Devoe held without bail. He is fighting extradition to Texas, a legal battle that could take up to two months.

Devoe was charged with being a fugitive from justice in connection with a murder charge in the killing of a Texas bartender Friday. His attorney had no comment.

Devoe also has been charged with killing an ex-girlfriend, 46-year-old Paula Griffith, one of four people found shot to death Sunday in a home near Austin, Texas.

At the Austin-area home over the weekend, detectives found the bodies of Griffith; her 15-year-old daughter; 17-year-old Danielle Hensley; and Griffith's boyfriend, 48-year-old Jay Feltner, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Before his arrest, Devoe is alleged to have called his mother in New York state using a cell phone that belonged to Feltner and told her he had killed five people, the arrest warrant affidavit said.

Devoe is believed to have gone to Griffith's Austin-area home, in a cedar tree-covered rural subdivision close to Jonestown, after the shooting at a bar in nearby Marble Falls, Texas. A bartender was killed amid Devoe's rage at an ex-girlfriend at the tavern, witnesses and police said.

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