Former Shippensburg man found guilty of voluntary manslaughter gets new trial

June 01, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Based on claims of ineffective attorney representation, Franklin County (Pa.) Judge Richard Walsh has ordered a new trial for a former Shippensburg, Pa., man found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the August 2009 shooting death of his neighbor.

Walsh Friday ordered Chad Kirby’s sentence to be vacated and called for a new trial.

Walsh reviewed Kirby’s claims filed by his new attorney, David J. Foster, regarding the trial representation from Eric Weisbrod. At issue is whether jurors should have been told about using force when defending your property.

Instead, Weisbrod presented a self-defense case, saying Kirby was fearful for his own safety and the safety of his children during a fight with Andrew Buttermore, according to court documents obtained by The Herald-Mail.

“There is a reasonable probability that the jury would have returned a different verdict had it been charged on justification for use of deadly force in defense of property,” Walsh wrote in court documents.

According to court documents, Kirby, now 39, and Buttermore, 35, fought outside their homes in the 2300 block of Lindsay Lot Road in Southampton Township. Buttermore, who is alleged to have broken a window at Kirby’s home with a baseball bat, suffered a fatal gunshot wound in his back.

On Oct. 8, 2010, a jury delivered a guilty verdict on the charge of voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison.

Foster has asked that his client be released on bail. No information was available on the status of that request.

Walsh presided over a hearing April 15 regarding motions for a new trial. Weisbrod testified, and the judge heard arguments from Foster and the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office.

According to court documents, Weisbrod testified that in his meetings with Kirby, his former client talked about his concerns about physical harm to himself or his children. Weisbrod said he wanted to focus on the concept of acting with the belief deadly force is needed to protect oneself, even if that belief is mistaken.

The judge’s order did not contain a date for a new trial.

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