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Pa. man found guilty of attempted homicide

August 30, 2008|By DON AINES

McCONNELLSBURG, PA. - A Fulton County jury deliberated about 2 1/2 hours Friday before finding Gregory Rouzer guilty of attempted homicide in the February shooting of Randolph Walters.

Rouzer, 40, of 1291 Possum Hollow Road in Harrisonville, Pa., was convicted of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and possession of an instrument of crime. He is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 1.

Pennsylvania State Police had charged Rouzer with shooting Walters three times with a .22-caliber rifle on the morning of Feb. 7 outside the Sipes Mill Road home that Walters shared with Marian Wertz.

Rouzer testified Thursday he met Walters before Christmas when his car broke down near Walters' home. Rouzer knew Wertz, who in the early 1990s had been engaged to his brother.

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Walters and Rouzer had met in Breezewood, Pa., the day before the shooting and arranged to go hunting the next morning, Rouzer testified. He agreed to wait for Walters outside because Wertz did not want him at the house, he testified.

Rouzer testified he was confronted by Walters near a shed and fired in self-defense after Walters fired a shotgun at him.

Walters, who had testified for the prosecution on Wednesday about the shooting, was called as a rebuttal witness Thursday and denied he had met with Rouzer on Feb. 6 or agreed to go hunting the next day.

Rouzer testified he ran off and did not contact police because he did not trust them. He spent about a week in the woods, walking from Harrisonville to Mercersburg, Pa., in Franklin County. Rouzer, who was struck in the leg with shotgun pellets, later was arrested in Chambersburg, Pa.

"I intend to meet with my client and explore his appellate options," said Eric Weisbrod, Rouzer's attorney. Rouzer could face up to 40 years in prison on the attempted homicide conviction alone, Weisbrod said.

Rouzer will be in Franklin County Court in November on charges that he attempted to hire someone to kill Walters. State police charged him with criminal solicitation to commit homicide for allegedly trying to arrange the killing while he was being held on $1 million bond for his earlier attempt on Walters' life.

After Rouzer was jailed, police received a letter from an inmate who had struck up a friendship with him, police said. The inmate was placed in Rouzer's cell, and on March 12 told police that Rouzer asked if he knew anyone who could keep Walters from testifying against him.

Police also monitored calls from the jail between Rouzer and a friend, Mildred Tressler of Mercersburg, Pa., in which the plot was discussed. Tressler, who also was charged in the case, met with an undercover officer posing as the hired killer, police said.

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