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DA takes step to seek death penalty in Pa. criminal homicide case

August 28, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- A Franklin County judge has granted the District Attorney's Office an extension to file a notice of aggravating circumstances in a 2006 criminal homicide case, a procedural requirement to seek the death penalty.

Scott Nathan North, 27, formerly of Chambersburg, is charged in the August 2006 killing of a former employer. North entered a not guilty plea to that and other charges at his mandatory arraignment on Aug. 6.

A notice of aggravating circumstances normally has to be filed by the time of mandatory arraignment.

Judge Douglas W. Herman recently granted the extension, Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom said. Evidence related to the case that could help determine whether the death penalty can be sought is undergoing testing by the Pennsylvania State Police Crime Lab, she said.

A determination will be made on whether to file the notice of aggravating circumstances once the results of the testing are available, Krom said.

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North, who also is charged with escape, walked away from a work release job in Shippensburg, Pa., on Aug. 2, 2006. He was apprehended by Pennsylvania State Police eight days later following a high-speed chase that started in Huntingdon County and ended in Mifflin County.

On Aug. 16, 2006, the body of Carl Ryder, 43, of Amberson, Pa., was found along a rural roadside in Huntingdon County, police said. Ryder was a fencing contractor for whom North once worked and had been missing for several days before North's capture.

Ryder died of blunt force trauma, according to autopsy results. Police said they found Ryder's blood outside his home, in the trunk of his car and on an address book belonging to North.

North was driving Ryder's Ford Crown Victoria when a state trooper stopped him on the night of Aug. 10, 2006, police said. North gave the trooper Ryder's driver's license, and when the trooper remarked that he did not look like Ryder's photo, North claimed he had undergone plastic surgery, police said.

The trooper did not buy that explanation and the pursuit began when North sped off, police said.

Other charges against North include four counts of theft; two counts each of burglary, criminal trespass, forgery and access device fraud; and one count each of false identification to law enforcement, fleeing or eluding police and abuse of a corpse.

Two Franklin County men are on death row in Pennsylvania - Michael Singley, who was convicted in a 1998 double homicide, and Albert Ezron Reid, who killed his estranged wife and stepdaughter in 1996.

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