Harshman denied new trial in Pa. murder case

Defense attorney says he will appeal order to Pa. Supreme Court

September 16, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • Ronald W. Harshman was found guilty in 2001 of first-degree murder in the death of Melvin Snyder.
File photo,

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A man serving a life sentence for first-degree murder was denied a new trial this week by a Franklin County (Pa.) Court judge who said the man failed to present information that his trial lawyer acted ineffectively and failed to offer any new evidence.

In an opinion filed Monday, Judge Douglas Herman said Ronald Harshman failed to prove he is entitled to relief on any of the grounds in his Post-Conviction Relief Act petition, in which he asked for a new trial.

Harshman was convicted July 13, 2001, of first-degree murder. Prosecutors say he killed Antrim Township, Pa., resident Melvin Elwood Snyder, whose body was never found. He was last seen alive in May 1985.

Defense attorney Chris Sheffield said Harshman will appeal the judge's order to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

In August 2009, court convened regarding Harshman's petition for a new trial. Sheffield, who did not represent Harshman in his 2001 trial, offered new testimony from Randy Kohr and Keith Granlun, former Franklin County Jail inmates who originally testified about statements Harshman made while incarcerated.


When called to testify last August, the men were advised of their rights against self-incrimination and chose not to testify.

The judge decided letters and other documents the defense attempted to introduce as evidence were inadmissible because of hearsay. Sheffield said that evidence will serve as the basis of the appeal.

Harshman appealed his sentence to the Pennsylvania Superior Court and lost that appeal in 2002.

Court documents state Harshman's wife, Teresa, had an affair with Snyder beginning in May 1984. They left the state briefly but reconciled with their respective spouses upon their return.

Harshman and Teresa Harshman Young later divorced.

"The victim and his wife continued to live together following their reconciliation until the victim's disappearance on the last Saturday in May 1985, the anniversary of initiation of his intimate relationship with Ronald Harshman's wife," an affidavit of probable cause states.

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